Riding Milford, PA

This blog came to be when I realized there was simply not enough information available about cycling in the Milford, Pennsylvania area. With many miles of pavement, gravel roads, and lots of trails, Milford is an ideal cycling spot and a great place for the outdoor enthusiast.

Milford is a historic town that sits in the Delaware Valley in Pike County, along the Delaware River, bordering both New York and New Jersey. Milford has lots of cafes, restaurants, and quaint shops that make it a great place to start or finish a ride.

Stay tuned for lots of articles and photos on gravel rides, road rides, and even some mountain bike rides, all in the Milford area!

Bontrager Ion 800 RT – Reviewed

Having been caught out on the trail or the road, too many times after the sun has gone down, I’ve had to use a head light to find my way. My old light, while powerful, was wired to a battery pack, that was stashed under the stem. Bulky and cumbersome.

I recently acquired a Bontrager Ion 800 RT and put it to immediate use. I went out for an evening gravel ride from Milford, down the McDade Trail and up through both sections of Zimmerman Farm. I cruised down Rt. 209 and back on the McDade for a few miles before turning around and retracing the route. By time I hit Zimmerman Road, it was pretty dark. I clicked on the Ion 800 RT, and was surprised at how well it lit up he trail. I cruised Zimmerman, Rt. 209, McDade and back through town with complete confidence.

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The next day, I did a morning road ride and used the Ion 800 RT’s daytime flashing mode. This unique function can be seen from over 1.5 KM away. Critical when riding on busy streets. Let’s face it, most people text and drive. There are so many distractions to keep driver’s from seeing everything in the roadway. We wear helmets to protect our heads in the event of a crash, Why not give yourself the best chance to avoid that crash!

The following was taken from Trek’s website:

  • Transmitr remote displays battery status indicating when charge is needed
  • See with our focused optics and over 270 degrees of visibility
  • 800 Lumens via high-power CREE LED
  • 800LM-1.5hrs, 450LM-3hrs, 200LM-6hrs, night flash-20hrs, day flash 20hrs
  • Fully charges in 6 hours through sealed Micro USB port
  • Includes 20 degree +/- adjustable Sync bracket that fits bars from 22.2-35.0mm
  • Blendr compatible, secure bar mount available  14303_A_2_Ion_800_RT

The Ion 80 RT is a nice compliment to the Flare R tail light. Both have night time as well as day time modes. To boot, the Ion 800 RT weighs much less than most head lights. I am extremely pleased and will use daytime modes whenever I’m on a paved roadway.

 

Stewart State Forest

About a 40 minute drive from Milford, sits Stewart State Forest, known to many as the Stewart Buffer Land. Matt and I decided to make the trip east on Rt. 84 yesterday (with a pit stop at Arlene and Tom’s Restaurant in Port Jervis to fuel up) for what proved to be a really nice day out on the trails.

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There are a few designated parking areas. We decided to make Weed Road our base camp. We started out on the Orchard Trail and did not see a rock or root all the way to Giles Road. We jumped over to Rock Wall Trail and found out quickly how it got it’s name. In the first half mile, you traverse 4 rock walls, and yeah, the rocks and roots appeared.

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We followed Rock Wall to Mid Earth to New Road. We made a left on White Cloud Trail, climbed a few hundred feet and dropped back down through the wetlands and back up to Bypass Trail and over to Windsor Trail. Looping back to Weed Road we pedaled up the gravel hill and back to the parking area for lunch.

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After a couple of pb&j sandwiches, we headed back down Weed Road, hungry for more singletrack. We found a jewel! Causeway Trail to Shields Trail to Drakes Trail is like a deep forest pump track. Hoping over to Mid Earth, we crossed New Road and took Senior to Waterfall.

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Waterfall really tests you. It’s a little bit technical singletrack and a little bit hike a bike, up rock formations that appear like waterfalls. We followed Waterfall to Prime to Sara’s Way to Windsor Trail and back to New Road. New Road becomes Weed Road as we pedaled into the parking area. At a high of 74 degrees, we were treated to a beautiful day for what turned out to be a wonderful ride.

What’s  playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Santana – Evil Ways IMG_0405

 

 

Hill Challenge Update

July’s hill climbing challenge did just what it was designed to do, get you out there pedaling. Ok, we’ll get me out there pedaling. A couple other local riders nailed it as well. Congratulations go out to Bill and Eric. They will drink from their well earned Riding Milford/Action Bikes and Outdoor, ceramic coffee mugs. I will too, although I snatched my mug as soon as they arrived.

 

Just to show how a goal can push you, here are a few stats from the month of July that are attributable to the hill challenge:

Bill, finished the challenge in only 11 days.

The three riders that finished the challenge, logged a total of 1,266 miles and 88,562 feet of elevation.

Pretty good for a few middle aged  men!

Unfortunately, I’m going to suspend the challenge. I do not want anyone getting hurt while climbing up hills and hammering down the other side. We will think up another way to get you outside and on your bike, soon. Until then, ride on!

 

 

Cannondale Test Rides

On Tuesday, I traveled to Mountain Creek Park in Vernon, NJ, with Matt and Alec for the Cycling Sports Group Connection. It’s Cannondale’s debut of their 2018 models along with offerings and tech from Fabric, Sugoi and Sombrio. The event was open to dealers and industry professionals, nationwide.

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Test bikes, lingering in the morning fog

Cannondale really knocked it out of the park with presentations of their new lineup. They introduced the Evo, CAADX, SuperX, Touring, Trail, Trigger, Scalpel, Bad Habit, Cujo, Quick, Quick Neo and Moterra and very cool kids bikes. Emphasis was on the new Synapse and all the tech that went into designing the new crown jewel of their lineup. By design, they did a good job not explaining what the SE in some of their models names’ stands for.

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Fabric showed off all their new tools, pumps, lights and bottles. Their saddles were the main focus of the presentation. Sugoi and Sombrio showed off their new lines as well.

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The Cannondale Touring

Around 11:30am, we were invited into the showroom for a question and answer session in front of the entire lineup. After a terrific lunch, we headed outside for the grand prize! A chance to ride everything Cannondale brought. And oh, they brought just about every new model in a full run of sizes.

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First, we took the ski lift to the top and ripped down the other side of the mountain on the gravel road on 3 extremely smooth Slates. No full review on a bike I rode for only 6 miles, but, wow, you could ride this bike anywhere, over anything! A quick jaunt around town on the Synapse left us feeling good, but we were at Mountain Creek, time to ride some single track.

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Alec grabbed a Bad Habit, Matt took a Trigger and I hopped on a Scalpel. We picked a fairly easy trail and made our way down the mountain. I won’t name anyone here, but there was a crash, not by me as I exercised caution or fear, and burned off a good amount of brake pad. At the bottom, we were alerted that it was time to start bringing the bikes in, so we opted for one more ride up the mountain and dropped down again before retiring to the beer garden.

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As a part time bike shop employee, this is not the type of event I would normally get an invite to. So, I made the most of it and was in no hurry to leave. At 8:30pm, we drove back to Milford, fulfilled. I leave you with a few pics of this awesome event!

 

 

 

 

Geezer Ride

On Sunday, the old men set out at for what ended up being an 80 mile ride. Mike, Steve, Joe, Kevin and myself (maybe, not so old men) left Action Bikes and Outdoor at 6:25am, amidst the fog and humidity.

We pedaled down Rt 209/6, hung a left on Mountain Avenue and right at the river, crossed the Port Jervis Bridge and rode through the West End neighborhood on our way to Rt. 97. Turning right, we navigated early morning Port Jervis. A left hand turn on Rt. 6 put us on the first of many climbs for the day.

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Rt. 6, from Port Jervis to Greenville is a 3.5 mile climb that gently rolls uphill for about 3 miles, then gets steep for the last half mile. Going over the top, we continued on Rt. 6 and hung a right on Rt. 1, heading into Westtown then Pine Island, the famous “Black Dirt region”. The onion aroma was delightful!

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We cruised through to Warwick, NY. Warwick is a very Milford esq type of village, just a little larger.  On the outskirts, we found a gas station to refill supplies.

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We left Warwick and circled through Florida and Goshen before making our way past Soons Orchard and back to Rt. 6 and the rolling hills of Orange County. After fueling up at the Firehouse Deli in Greenville, we climbed up to the top of Rt. 6 (this time, from the back end) and were rewarded with a 3.5 mile descent! No matter how hilly a ride is, that drop always cures my aching legs. We traveled up River Road and crossed over the Milford Bridge for a quiet cool down through Milford.

By the way, the climb up Rt. 6 was the 7th hill this month for me in the climbing challenge. Just Guymard Turnpike, High Point and Sunrise Mountain to go. I’m told one rider finished all 10 hills in 11 days. Congrats, Bill!

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What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – The Monkees – Listen to the Band

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First Climb

One down, nine to go. The climbing challenge has begun! On Monday, Eric, Steve, Mike and myself, set out from Action Bikes and Outdoor at 8am to tackle any one of the 10 climbs. With High Point closed, due to New Jersey’s budget impasse that closed more than 50 state parks, historic sites and recreational areas, we settled on Greenville Turnpike.

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We could not have asked for a more beautiful day. At 64 degrees, the humidity was low as we pedaled out of the shop and headed for the Milford Bridge. Crossing the bridge, we climbed Deckertown Turnpike and hung a left on Clove Road for a roller coaster type ride all the way to Montague. A short descent on Rt. 23 and a right onto Greenville Turnpike had us out of the saddle and climbing for 2.5 miles. The graph below shows just how steep that hill can get.

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A left on Mountain Road for a scenic drop down to Rt. 6. The climb to the top of Rt. 6, although steep, is only a half mile and the next 3.5 miles are all downhill. The descent is fast and drops you right back to Rt. 23. A right hand turn puts you into Port Jervis with a lot of traffic for a short ride over to River Road.

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River Road connects back to the Milford Bridge through a few quiet neighborhoods and rolling farmland. An easy stroll over the bridge and back into Milford. I won’t bore you with stories on all 10 climbs, just wanted to let you know that the challenge is on!

 

What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Foreigner – Cold as Ice

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The High Knob and Back

Another ride through the Delaware State Forest. It never gets old. It has a large network of gravel roads that throw everything at you from pea gravel to 4″ rip rap and everything in between.

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The weatherman got it right on Sunday. 70 degrees and sunny with no wind. An absolutely beautiful day. As you probably surmised, we took advantage of it by planning and executing an adventure that took us from Lord’s Valley to the High Knob.

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We met at the Rt 739 parking area at 6:30am, Joe, Alex, Jason, Jess, Mike, Eric, Anthony and yours truly. The initial push up Five Mile Meadow Road started with a 1.5 mile climb and took us all the way out to Silver Lake Road and up a steep hill, before turning into Little Mud Pond Rd. We came back out onto Silver Lake and onto Flat Ridge Road. At the end of Flat Ridge, we said goodbye to Joe and Alex as they turned back and headed for home to attend to a day at the pool with family.

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We pedaled up to Minisink Lake and ducked into the Burnt Mills Trail for a short stretch to the Burnt Mills parking lot. Coming out of the parking lot and out on Rt 402, we turned left on Pine Flats Road. We cruised down to the Bridge at the Beaver Run Hunt and Fish Club for a photo op, refueled and pedaled up to the fork where Hay Road leads to Highline Road and turns into Hobaday Road. For 8 miles, you climb from the fork to the High Knob.

We regrouped at the base and began our assault on the hill. The climb is about 2 miles of loose gravel and winds around the core of the hill, getting steeper towards the top. The High Knob if a good halfway point for any ride and a nice place for lunch. Most reached into their jersey pocket for a sandwich. Eric pulled out a BBQ chicken leg. Yes, you read that right. It seems that Eric enjoys good food, no matter what. I really wish I would have gotten a photo of that fine gourmet atop Pike County’s highest peak.

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Jess enjoys her victory at the peak

The descent was fast and fun. That continued as most of the way back on the Hobaday, Highline, Hay Road link is downhill. After retracing Pine Flats Road, we turned right on Rt. 402 and a left onto Bushkill Falls Road and rode back to Flat Ridge. We dropped back onto Silver Lake Road and hung a right onto Standing Stone Trail. We ripped through the deer management area and back out on Five Mile Meadow Road. After a few more short hills and nice descent to the parking area, we were loading our bikes on our cars by just a few minutes after noon. Here’s a few more pics of this awesome ride:

What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Billy Joel – Modern Woman

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Tri State Cup of Joe

What better way to get people riding more, than a climbing challenge! Now that summer is right around the corner, ridingmilford.com along with Action Bikes & Outdoor are challenging you to get outside and ride your bike skyward to the top of some of the area’s most iconic climbs. Complete the challenge and get this ultra cool coffee mug:

Here’s how the challenge will work. Go to http://www.strava.com/clubs/ridingmilfordclimbingchallenge, join and ride to the top of the following hills:

High Point (to monument) (NJ)

Point Peter (NY)

Cummins Hill (PA)

Sunrise Mountain (NJ)

Skyline Drive (off Old Milford Rd) (PA)

Rt. 6 (Port Jervis to Greenville) (NY)

Foster Hill (7th St. to Malibu Dude Ranch) (PA)

Guymard Turnpike (NY)

Greenville Turnpike (NY)

Rt. 6 (Milford to Frenchtown Rd.) (PA)

Complete all climbs in any one calendar month.

Each ride must consist of at least 25 miles.

You may do as many climbs in one day as you like by adding 10 miles for each climb (1 climb  = 25 miles, 2 climbs = 35 miles, 3 climbs = 45 miles etc…).

Do all 10 climbs in one Ride of at least 100 miles and qualify.

Remember, if it’s not on Strava, it didn’t happen.

We will run this challenge July through December, 2017.

Now get out and ride!!🚴🚴‍♀️

 

 

 

 

 

 

Passion for Pedaling

Everything is green, rivers and creeks are flowing and flowers are blooming. When pedaling in the late spring or early summer, everything seems right in the world.

I keep a bike in the car, on the off chance that I’ll get that unexpected ride in. Yesterday presented me with just that opportunity. Eric inquired about the possibility of a 5pm road ride from Dingmans Falls. Finally being able to get out of work on time, I jumped at it. We met up at the parking lot at the top of Johnny Bee Road at the base of the falls.

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The weather was perfect, 79 degrees with a slight breeze. We rode out and over the Dingman Bridge. Over the Old Mine Road/Peter’s Valley climb, Eric decided a no hands descent was in order. We pedaled through the Walpack area and into the Walpack loop. Spinning around, we jetted back through Peter’s Valley Craft Center, and headed over to Layton for an alternate climb and a speedy descent back to the Dingman Bridge. When we got back to the parking lot, we decided to ride the wooden path and Check out both sets of falls. Here’s some pics of these incredible, natural works of art:

Milford to Shawnee: The McDade Experience

Well, it finally happened. I wrote about an upcoming ride and it went off without a hitch! The Weather forecast was bleak at best. Rain and cold all day. Everyone showed up enthusiastic and ready for the rain. But, as luck would have it, we were spared for most of the day, save for a little drizzle the last 12 miles.

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We departed Action Bikes and Outdoor in the heart of Milford at 8:30am, pedaled down to The Delaware River and hoped on the McDade Trail. The first 5 miles clicked by rather quickly. At Raymondskill Road, we opted to ride on Rt. 209 and veered in and out of both sections of Zimmerman Farm. We re-entered the McDade Trail at Dingman’s Falls and stayed on gravel for the next 23 miles. 6 or 7 miles in, Jess got her first flat of the day. The tube change made for a needed rest.

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We continued on towards Bushkill, when just before the boat launch, Eric had a nice liquid surprise waiting for us. After a few minutes, we pushed off (Jess caught her second flat here) and hit the Bushkill hills. Just past the boat launch, the trail becomes narrow and hilly. Not hike a bike stuff, but enough to get your attention.

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It started to rain a little and got cool fast. We picked up the pace a bit in an attempt to out run the rain. It never came down that hard. Hitting the parking area at Hialeah Trailhead, we jumped on River Road and made our way to the Gem and Keystone Brew Pub for a delicious lunch.

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The McDade Trail winds through nature, in the form of corn fields, the Delaware River, pine forests and thick brush, all within a few hundred feet of Rt. 209. We were lucky that the heavy rain held out until after the ride. When we arrived, we were greeted by our families, had a few beers, laughed and enjoyed the rest of the day.

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Steve, TC, Joe, Jason, Eric, Rob, Jess, Mike, Kyle and Bill at the finish

Some pics of the day:

What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Electric Light Orchestra – Strange Magic

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McDade Trail Adventure Ride

On Sunday, June 4th, a group will be leaving Action Bikes and Outdoor in Milford and ride to Milford Beach, where we will enter the McDade Trail and pedal 30-35 miles south to the Hialeah trailhead. We will come off the trail briefly to cover both sections of Zimmerman Farm.

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Depending on the weather, it should be a fun ride at an intermediate pace. Adventure bikes (cyclocross, gravel, etc…) and mountain bikes are ideal for this type of surface.

We are meeting at the shop at 7:30am for an 8am rollout. The plan is to reach the end of the trail by noon and have lunch at one of the 2 Brew Pubs in the Shawnee area. You can either have a ride pick you up and/or have lunch with the group or take the Pocono Pony bus back to the shop. The Pocono Pony is a bus service that has a line that runs on the weekends along the Delaware River. A one way fare is $1.50. This includes transportation for you and your bike. Each bus has bike and boat racks, making it a convenient method of transportation to and from all your Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area adventures. You can check the schedule at http://www.mcta.com, click route and select the DEWA Park route.

You’ll need funds for lunch, extra tube, helmet and a lot of enthusiasm. Hope to see you there.

What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Elvis Costello – Watching the Detectives

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Back in the Saddle Again

It’s been a while since my last post. This was supposed to be about my experience at the Lu Lacka Wyco Hundo gravel race. Unfortunately, life got in the way. I’ve done a couple of rides the past few weeks, however, nothing of any length or significance.

On Tuesday evening, I was just looking to clear my head, so I pedaled out of Action Bikes and Outdoor and headed out to Milford Beach, via the gravel section, below 3rd street, along the river. Once at the beach, I jumped onto the McDade Trail. The first 3-4 miles on the trail are so serene and peaceful. Easy rolling, gravel terrain tucked away in the woods with the Delaware River gracefully flowing along to the left.IMG_5148

I rode past Raymondskill Road and through the single track, to the steps (where the bridge washed out). I shouldered my bike and hiked up to Rt. 209. A half mile on 209 and into the first section of Zimmerman Farm. After cresting the hill, you stay left at the fork, avoiding the Conashaugh horse trails. Another mile and back on Rt. 209 for a 1/4 mile and back into Zimmerman Farm. This section climbs a bit and drops sharply down to the farm. Riding by the dilapidated structures and past Marie Zimmerman’s home, I sped down the dirt road that leads back to the pave.  I took Rt. 209 to Dingmans Ferry and hopped back on the McDade Trail to The Dingmans Campground General Store.IMG_5149

I used the General Store as my turn around and took the McDade Trail back to Dingmans Falls and onto Rt. 209 (out and backs are soooo boring). Jumping back on the McDade Trail to Milford Beach, I past a few couples riding along slowly taking in all that this beautiful stretch of land has to offer.

Back at the shop, just before dark, I realized that I am lucky to be able to get on the bike and pedal, whenever time allows.

What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Eddie Rabbitt – I Love a Rainy Night

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Lu Lack Wyco Hundo Prep

On Sunday, I’ll be saddling up for my first long gravel ride in 2017. The Lu Lacka Wyco Hundo is an all road (gravel, dirt and pave) adventure in Northeastern PA. They offer 50, 75 and 100 mile routes. I’m all in for the 100.

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Image taken from llwh website

Registration opened on January 1st at 12:01am and filled up in a few hours for this 5th annual ride. While others were waiting for the ball to drop, I was patiently waiting at my laptop for the clock to strike midnight, to see if I’d get in.

Honestly, I knew that it would be tough to get in enough miles this time of year to properly train for what’s billed as a grueling ride. What I did not realize was that my longest ride would be 45 miles a couple of weeks before. I’m trying to make up for lost training with good nutrition. I’m a vegetarian who also enjoys some baked goods. I’ve been eating as clean as possible the last few weeks and adding some stretching and yoga and trying to get in some extra sleep.

I hope to have lots of cool photos and a great story for the blog…..

See you next week!

 

 

Delaware State Forest Gravel Grinding

On Sunday, we were treated to a beautiful spring day. High 60’s and sunny. After a monumental thaw, followed by 3 days of torrential rains, spring is finally here and it couldn’t be better.

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Wanting to get a longer ride in with a couple of weeks to go before the Lu Lacka Wyco Hundo gravel ride, I met up with Mike at the Rt. 739 parking area and headed up Five Mile Meadow Road. The roadway was filled with potholes, but dry for most of the way (the state normally lays a fresh layer of gravel across the road in late September). We turned right on Silver Lake Road, climbed the chopped up asphalt and slipped into Little Mud Pond Road, where we picked up Eric, to join us in this gravel adventure.

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We came back on Silver Lake a little and hung a right on Flat Ridge Road, which provided a little respite. We were heading into the deep woods soon after. A left on Bushkill Falls Road and a right on Minisink Road, put us into the Minisink Lake Community, at the fork, the pave turns back to gravel and then to double trail jeep trail. Whittaker Trail was muddy and soft. For about a mile and a half, we worked our way through the woods until the trail came back onto gravel and the road was now fittingly called Whittaker Road. About a mile in and Eric’s rear tire went down. Being set up tubeless, he had to remove the valve and pop a tube in. We learned a valuable lesson: a 23mm road tube will not make due in a 36mm cross tire. Luckily, we had a cross tube, inserted it and off we went.

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Eric trying to blow his tire up manually!

Whittaker Road comes out to Rt. 402. We turned right and pedaled up to Silver Lake Road. At this point, Eric and Mike rode back to their cars (Eric’s at Little Mud Pond Road and Mike’s at the end of Five Mile Meadow Road). I made my way up to the Maple Run parking area to meet up with Matt for some extended saddle time. We headed north to the High Knob Road and turned into Hobbaday Road and down to High Line Road. This is basically 7 miles of pure down hill gravel except for a few little bumps along the way. We hung a sharp left on Pine Flats Road and rode out to Rt. 402 and onto Silver Lake Road.

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After a few miles, we were back on gravel on Standing Stone Trail. A few easy miles to Five Mile Meadow Road and we floated back down to Rt. 739. I was pretty tired and glad to be back at my car. Matt still had to pedal up Rt. 739 to Blooming Grove Road and back onto Rt. 402 for about 15 more miles to his car. Anyway you slice it, it was a beautiful day of riding! Hopefully the big event will be just as nice.

What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Terence Trent D’arby – Wishing Well

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Getting Outside

Ah, the rains! Between the melting snow and all the rain, it’s shaping up to be an incredible spring season. Usually, when we have this much moisture in the early spring, it leads to green moss on the ground, beautiful trees and pristine lakes, void of silt. While nature takes it’s course, it may be a good time to cultivate your adventures for 2017.

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I think that everyone who rides a bike, kayaks, hikes or does anything outdoors, would love to be able to spend more time in nature. Most people have families and careers.  And while family time is not a chore, work can get overwhelming at times, making even the shortest activities seem like paradise. Getting out weekly is a must, but it really helps to plan your longer outings. When your stuck working on Saturday or putting in an extra 20 hours for the week, looking forward to an epic hike, refreshing paddle down your favorite river or a bike ride that goes so late, you need to turn your head light on, can help to ward off the stresses of the modern weekend adventurer.

You can simply plan local getaways or events that take you out of your backyard. I’m scheduling the following events with many local rides, hikes, paddles and camping trips mixed in:

  • April 23rd – Lu Lacka Wyco Hundo 100 mile gravel ride in Northeastern PA
  • Late June 200 mile/ 2 day ride from Port Jervis, NY to Cape May, NJ
  • July 22nd – VBC Century Road ride in Plattsburgh, NY
  • Late September – Maple City Century 100 mile Gravel Ride in Honesdale, PA
  • Late October – Erie 80 MTB Race in Port Jervis, NY

Planning can take many paths, just don’t let it add additional stress. No need to create a spread sheet here, just lay out what you think you’ll need and as you get closer, shed some weight by getting rid of all but the absolute necessities. Having the right gear can help ease your mind. If you are doing a multi day hike on the Appalachian Trail, make sure you have enough water, food, cooking equipment, good boots and dry clothes. Don’t let the weather keep you inside. On a long bike ride, tubes, a tire and snacks could be all you really need.

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Another thought, keep your gear well maintained. Something as simple as bringing your bike in for a spring tune up will keep you riding all year long and provide for a hassle free adventure. If you do not know, ask. Your local bike shop or outdoor store is your best resource for information on maintenance, gear and routes.

The Great Thaw?

For someone that lives to ride the trails and back roads, snow can be a real problem. You might have noticed from some of my more recent posts, that I have been riding my gravel bikes on the pave. There are two reasons for this. First, I wanted to hit some longer hills and by this time of year, I’m usually able to get out on the road bike enough to satisfy the urge to climb. Second, I’d rather ride a heavier bike that’s used to getting covered in all sorts of debris and muck.

That said, last week, we got hit with 25-30 inches of snow. With the wind drifts and plow trucks piling it up, visibility around turns has been pretty minimal. Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, the temperatures were forecast to hit above 45 degrees. I made it my business to ride at least twice before Wednesday’s cold snap comes in.

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On Sunday, I left Action Bikes and Outdoor and decided to climb Foster Hill to the dude ranch, descended and climbed up Skyline Drive around the cell tower and back down. You feel every fiber of muscle working, pulling up a beefy steel bike with 29X2.1 knobby tires. It’s just the opposite on the descent. The weight of a well made steel bike, grounds you and gives you a ton of confidence while barreling down from one of the highest points of elevation in the area.

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On Tuesday, I did another road ride on the Van Dessel WTF, but this time, from Dingmans Falls. I left the parking area and headed directly uphill on Rt. 739, a road that goes skyward immediately. After 4 miles, you gain more than 800 feet of elevation. That hill would probably get included in a lot of rides, be it not for the lack of shoulder.

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A right on Milford Road, sends you on a roller coaster ride for a few miles, before dropping quickly into Milford. After navigating the only traffic light in town, Rt. 209 winds its way along the Delaware River, all the way back to Dingmans Falls. You know, the snow can be quite beautiful when the sun shines, even if you only have a slight path to ride.

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What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – The Ozark Mountain Daredevils – Jackie Blue.

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Kona Rove – Steel

If you read my review of the Kona Rove TI, you might be wondering why I’m now reviewing the steel version of Kona’s do all platform.

Let me start by saying that I love the Rove TI. However, Most of my bikes are 59cm and I ordered the frame in a 59 without checking the length of the seat tube or the stand over. As much as I enjoyed the plush ride, it was simply too big for me. So, I parted ways with my beloved steed and ordered the steel Rove in a 57cm.

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After about 550 miles through all kinds of weather and road conditions, I have to say that the steel Rove is everything you’d want in a gravel/monstercross/all road bike. At $1,499.99, you would think it comes poorly spec’d, when in fact, the Rove sports a very nice package. First, the frame is Kona’s cromoly butted steel, paired with a Kona Project Two cromoly disc fork. SRAM Rival shifters and derailers, a SRAM 11-42 cassette with a SRAM S350 40t crankset, TRP Spyre mechanical disc brakes and Clemente Xplore 700X36 tubeless tires laced to an Alex Al disc wheelset.  An FSA headset, Kona seat post, seatpost clamp, 15 degree flared handlebar and stem as well as a WTB Volt saddle round it all out.

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After about 100 miles, I made the decision to make the Rove my go to gravel bike, for epic long distance events. I switched out the wheelset to Bontrager’s Affinity Elite tubeless. I wanted to go a little wider with my hands in the drops, so the Salsa Woodchipper handlebar just made sense. I lightened up the cockpit a bit with a Chris King headset, Thomson seat post and stem. Although the cassette and crankset are perfectly capable, I switched out the cassette for a 10X42 and the crankset to a Rival 42t, just to allow for a little more top end speed.

After a 100 mile gravel ride and many long, steep climbs, I’m extremely happy with my choice. The steel Rove is snappy enough for any gravel race, long epic adventure or daily commute and climbs as well as it’s TI counterpart.

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Kona leaves nothing to chance. With 3 water bottle mounts, full fender and rack mounts, the Rove is as versatile as a do all bike could be. Also, the olive color is beautiful and adds a bit of class.

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Cummins Hill- Front Side

Another last-minute ride before a storm system comes in. Hopefully, the last one of the season. If not, We’ll just have to ride it out until sunnier sky’s prevail.

On Thursday afternoon, I decided to climb Cummins Hill from the front side with a little trail diversion before descending to Mill Rift. Now, normally, I would ride into Matamoras and take Delaware Drive all the way up from the river and down to Mill Rift before climbing Bluestone Blvd and over Cummins Hill.

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Starting from Action Bikes and Outdoor in the heart of Milford, I simply went the opposite way. The front side is far more difficult. The first climb took around 27 minutes. It can be pretty steep in sections. I took a small diversion on Lost Camp Trail. After a mile, I turned around, not wanting to get caught out in the woods again.You realize how far you climbed when you hit the downhill spin into Mill Rift. You roll through the quiet little river town, across the railroad tracks and begin to ascend. Delaware Drive is not quite as long as Cummins Hill, but every bit as steep.

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I reached the top and dropped quickly to the Delaware River. There are some really nice views of the river from the top of both climbs. I cut across Mountain Avenue, to avoid Matamoras and pedaled down Rt. 209 and back to the shop. Next week, I’ll review the Kona Rove Steel version.

What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Peter Schilling – Major Tom (Coming Home)’94 R-556198-1338494496-8396.jpeg

 

 

Lost in the Woods?

On Tuesday night, I left work about 4pm and decided on my way home to turn around and head for Dingman’s Falls. I had my bike and gear in the car, just in case. The sky was overcast and gloomy, I knew I had this chance to get a ride in before Mother Nature poured down on us for a few days (according to the weather forecast).

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By 4:30, I rolled out onto Rt. 209, made a right on Rt. 739 and glided over the wood planks of the Dingmans Ferry Bridge. A right on Old Mine Road and I immediately started climbing. At the top, I hung a right onto the gravel section of Old Mine Road. For six miles, along the river and through the fields, the grade was primarily downhill and flat. Except for a few washed out sections, the surface was in pretty good shape.

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At the end, I turned left on Pompey Road and climbed out of the Walpack Loop. I saw a trail I’ve been wanting to explore. I thought it came out in front of the Walpack Inn. It probably did, but I took a wrong turn in the woods. I tried to find my way out, but it seemed the trail just kept dropping down. I checked the map on my phone and found my direction. By this time, it was almost dark. The map showed what looked like a road a few miles away. I turned my headlight on and bounced down the trail, hoping I wouldn’t have to sleep under the stars, without camping gear or a jacket.

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Out in the distance, I saw a light, it sailed by pretty quick. Thankfully, it was a car. Another half mile and I finally found the road. I turned on navigation (what would I do without a smart phone) and pedaled back to Old Mine Road. On the ride back to my car, I was happy I didn’t panic and just kept moving forward. I was happier that I turned around and was even luckier still to have this brief adventure!

What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – The J Geils Band – Centerfold

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Spring in Winter

This last week has been pretty amazing, with temperatures ranging from the 50’s to 73 degrees today! Just when it seemed like the ice and snow wouldn’t stop, we are treated to 7 glorious days in February!

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I know the cold weather will eventually come back, but this little teaser is just the thing that could help shake out those cobwebs and get you ready for a year full of adventures!

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Do something nice for someone, when no one else is looking.

 

Winter Legs, Hawks Nest and Windervals

I guess Punxsutawney Phil was wrong. A couple weeks ago, the world’s most famous rodent saw his shadow, indicating 6 more weeks of winter. This weekend and the weather for the next 10 days indicate otherwise. With temperatures reaching the 60’s the last two days, I had to fit in a couple rides. Saturday was an off road, gravel and slush adventure. For Sunday, Eric and I planned a road ride on gravel bikes with knobby tires, to compensate for all the dirt and gravel on the roadway as well as the melting ice and snow.

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Port Jervis Bridge

 

We pedaled out of Action Bikes and Outdoor, towards Matamoras on Rt. 209/6. Once through Westfall Township, we turned left on Mountain Avenue to Delaware Drive and over the Port Jervis Bridge. Turning left into the West End neighborhood, we rode along the river and up to Rt. 97. We turned right and rode up to Skyline Drive. As we attempted to climb up to Point Peter, we were stopped about 3/4 of the way up by a gate that was blocking the unplowed, snow filled road.

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Looking to get some more climbing in, we adjusted our route and descended back to Rt. 97 and headed up to the Hawks Nest. You can’t beat the view from any of the roadside pull offs. However, there was a bit more traffic than expected and a lot more motorcycles than cars. The motor bikes were riding up and over the hills and turning around and doing it all over again, while their buddies took video of them popping wheelies.

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Not sure this is the smartest thing on a road with so many blind corners and hills. We rode over and down to the other side. After another mile or so, we pedaled up a Shortell Road (a hard packed dirt surface) for half a mile until we were again turned around by a pile of snow this time, blocking off the unplowed road.

We decided to ride back over the Hawks Nest, also known as the Upper Delaware Scenic Byway. We stopped at the very . . top for a Clif bar and a photo op. To escape the Evil Knievels of the world, we sped down Rt. 97 and back into the West End neighborhood. The ride on Mountain Avenue and back up Rt. 209/6 were met with a horrendous head wind. Gusts were almost blowing us backward.

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If this were simply a spring teaser, I’ll take it. But, if this is a sign of things to come, I’ll take it and run or pedal. Either way, I’ll welcome it!

What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here

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Appalachian Trail Adventure

Winter has hit the northeast. On Thursday, Mother Nature dropped nearly a foot of snow on us. Easily the largest snowfall in the area this winter. A bikepacking trip was planned for this past weekend, but with back roads and trails too deeply covered, TC shifted his focus to an overnight backpacking adventure. With Will and myself enlisted, TC mapped out the trip and made sure we would be rewarded at the end of the day’s hike.

This was to be my first multi day hike and it showed. I started out the day by driving off from home with my hat and gloves on the roof of the car. They ended up on my driveway. Apparently it seems I dramatically over packed. Well, I over dressed as well, but shed some clothes and added them to my bulging backpack.

We departed on Saturday morning from Fairview Lake near Stillwater, NJ and snowshoed up a long hill on the Appalachian Trail. The higher we got, the deeper the snow. When we arrived on top, we were rewarded with a walk along the ridge and treated to astonishing views.

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We climbed and descended for the better part of 5 1/2 hours. About three-quarters of the way through the eight mile hike, we shed the snowshoes. As we got closer to the cabin, we passed some day hikers, that really packed the snow down enabling us to pick up the pace.

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Saturday Lunch Break

The last half mile was a downhill hike that took us over countless rocks and snow drifts. We landed on Camp Road and walked about 1000 feet to the Mohican Outdoor Center, our home away from home for the night. Now, we knew we were staying in a cabin. What we did not know was that the Mohican staff were preparing a meal for another group and invited us over to the dining hall for a gourmet feast.img_0220

Stomachs full, we retired to our cabin. We were going to need a good nights sleep as the weather forecast for Sunday was a mix of snow, sleet and rain.

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We woke about 6:30am, to pellets of ice hitting the cabin. A good breakfast and a pot of coffee and we were fully recharged and ready to take on the weather. With covers over our packs and rain gear on, we headed out the door and onto the trail at 9:30am. Again, the day started out with a climb. We opted to forgo  the snowshoes and make up as much time as possible to get through the storm. img_0211

Getting up the hill was not a problem. We climbed rather quickly. When we reached the higher elevations, the snow came down heavy and the wind was blowing extremely hard, making it difficult to see. Pushing through 18-20 inches of snow slowed us down considerably. I started to fall behind. My shoulders and hips were sore. As I plodded forward, I was lucky that TC and Will kept and eye out for trail markers. We reached Sunfish Pond and took a short rest about halfway through the 9 mile day.

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Will’s pack was covered in ice

We moved on and navigated the rocky terrain around the lake. After another climb, we descended a few miles down a rather well packed trail, along a beautiful creek, all the way to the parking area along RT. 80.

Although the terrain was a little rough, due to the snow and ice, I’m interested to see how it will be during the spring or summer. I’m sure I will find out, as this may have been my first overnight backpacking adventure, but it certainly will not be my last.

The Climb Before the Storm

What a beautiful day. 51 degrees in February. With the impending snow storm on the horizon, today was one of those days that if you have a window, you had to go out and ride. I wanted to change things up a bit, so I took the Van Dessel WTF on a stroll over Cummins Hill. A 28 pound bike with 29X 2.1 inch tires should provide quite a challenge on  the same hills that I normally climb on my sub 17 pound road bike.

I left Action Bikes and Outdoor and pedaled down Rt. 209/6 towards Matamoras. Once I navigated the school traffic and lights, I veered left onto Mountain Avenue and cut across to Delaware Drive for a windy stint along the river.

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A brief stop to take a photo of a garage that was painted to look like a farm scene, then back down Delaware Drive, cautiously to prepare for the climb.  The first set of hills take you off the river and away from the commercial river companies’ launch sites. The initial climb, although not very long, gives the rider a little insight of what’s about to come. The roadway twists, turns and goes skyward for about 3.5 miles. Once you summit this section, you drop down pretty quickly. Be sure to feather the brakes and glance to the right, as you do not want to miss the incredible views of the Delaware River from about mid way down the hill.

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At the bottom, you cross the train tracks and arrive in the tiny town of Mill Rift, PA. This little berg has so many cool nooks and crannies. Check out the frozen water wheel and covered bridge that are among the amazing things to see.

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After site seeing in Mill Rift, the longer section of hills comes up on you without notice. Incline after leg burning incline, the road seems to never stop going upward. Every time you think you’ve crested the top of a hill, you look up to see the road go higher. When you finally reach the top, you really have to be careful, as the descent is steep and dangerous. This is one paved road that requires your full attention. Although the road is lightly travelled, cars and pickup trucks can come up on you in a hurry.

At the bottom, a right hand turn puts you back on Rt. 209/6 and the cool down into Milford is just what the doctor ordered!

This is a difficult route that should be done on a road bike. Helmets should always be worn, especially when you plan on descending a hill like this.

What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – The Pretenders – Brass in Pocket

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Little Bit of Everything

I had a window on Saturday. I got out from Action Bikes and Outdoor in the heart of Milford at 3pm. It was chilly, but the sun was out and I’ll take 35 degrees in February anytime. Not knowing what to expect, I took the Van Dessel WTF, just in case the roads and trails had snow.

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I winded my way through Milford and dropped down Metz Road past the Metz Icehouse and into Milford Beach where I jumped on the Mcdade Trail. I was surprised how dry the surface was. Very little snow. img_0188

I pedaled past Raymondskill Road onto the single track to where the trail drops down the wooden steps. A quick hike up the side of the hill put me over the guardrail and on Rt. 209. From there, I jumped onto Zimmerman Road, rode up and around the old horse trails and back out on 209. Another 1/4 mile and I was back on Zimmerman and climbing up to the Zimmerman Farm (I detailed Marie Zimmerman’s farm and home in a couple of previous posts)

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Zimmerman Farm

After a quick photo op, I pedaled through the farm, past the house and down the trail and back out to Rt. 209. Crossing over Rt. 739, I shot down the McDade extension, over the wooden bridge and back around to 209 for a few miles before jumping back on the Mcdade Trail. As I got back to Milford Beach, the sun just started to set over the Delaware River.

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Sunset over the Delaware River

img_0191Although I long for warmer days, I’ll take 35 in February anytime!!

What’s Playing (What am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show – The Cover of the Rolling Stoneimg_0187

Cold Nights

All this ice is enough to screw up a few good gravel roads. Well that’s a little extreme. But, seriously, I wish it would just snow already. A foot of snow would be a whole lot better than an inch of ice.img_0178

With winter more than a third over, it was time to get out at night again and navigate through whatever Mother Nature decided to leave on the ground this week. I met up with Eric at 5:30pm at the parking area on Rt. 739 at the foot of Five Mile Meadow Road for a cold gravel ride. Well, maybe not a gravel ride, more like an ice ride.

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Not all rides are epic and although we got out and pedaled for a while, this was a ride that could have waited for a much warmer day. You see, slush and mud may be dirtier, but it’s sure a lot safer to ride through.img_0179

Anyway, we climbed up the first section of road for about a mile and a half, using the truck tire tracks that rip through the snow and ice. Another mile and a half and the tire tracks just about disappeared. It started snowing and we decided to turn back. The last thing we wanted was the snow to cover what little roadway was not already covered in ice. The ride back got me thinking that an investment in studded tires might be a good idea!

A Little Warmth, A Lot of Mud

Mixed in with the snow, rain and ice, we were treated to a 40 degree day today. In fact, the forecasts are calling for warmer weather for the next 3 days. To take advantage, I stuffed my bike(Van Dessel WTF) in the car this morning, charged up my headlight and prepared for an after work ride through the trails off Old Mine Road, just over the River on the New Jersey side.

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I parked at Dingmans Falls and rode across the Dingman Bridge, making a left on Old Mine Road. About a mile and a half later, I turned right on Van Ness Road. Van Ness is a paved road that has seen better days. There are no pot holes, really, just chunks of roadway are missing. It winds nicely through the woods, with a short but steep climb up to Upper Ridge Road. Turning left, you immediately see what appears to be a wall or the side of a mountain. As you approach, the gradient seems less steep and the climb, although not easy on the loose surface, was not as daunting as it first appeared. img_0173

The road was covered in leaves, making it difficult to see the rocks and roots. The mud was unavoidable! Every few feet, soft, loose terrain gave way to puddles and mud. Halfway through, the road turns to trail and goes upward, leaving me wondering why I wasn’t on a mountain bike.  It’s all good though. A wet, muddy, cold ride is still better than a day spent inside.

Coming out onto Jager Road, I hung a left and descended down to Old Mine Road. On the way back, I tried going down Mettler Road and turned right on Van Auken Road. Both were covered in ice. I pedaled about a mile and turned back as ice was still on the  gravel surface.

Maybe today was just a little taste of things to come. Who knows, a longer road ride might be in the near future.

No music today. Just the sound of the temporary thaw as streams and creeks roared like rivers and everything melted in the road.

 

Van Dessel WTF: Reviewed

With the cold weather, snow and ice hitting us a little harder this winter, I have not been able to get outside as often as last year. This gives me some time to create a little content for the blog. When I read other blogs, and I read a lot of them, I pay attention to product reviews. The bike industry continues to evolve, with new equipment and apparel debuting more often than most industries. It can be hard to keep up with. Reviews provide insight from end users to industry professionals, helping consumers make smart choices.

One of the bikes I rode in 2016 was the Van Dessel Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. The WTF is an all road, adventure or gravel bike. According to Van Dessel’s website, “With 4130 Cro-Moly at it’s heart the WTF you can build it up with drop bars or straight, a chain drive or belt drive, skinny tires or 2.1’s Really it’s open to suggestions. After all, it handles gravel roads, paved roads, single track, mountain trails, commuting, loaded touring, winter training, monster cross — pretty much anything you might want to do on a bike, it’s perfectly qualified for”. The bike is available as a frame/fork/headset/seat collar for $699 from Van Dessel Cycles, a small builder with a great reputation, located in Mendham, N.J.cropped-img_22111.jpgThe frame and fork are disc brake only. I purchased my frame in 2015, so I have quick release dropouts. For 2017, the WTF comes with new modular dropouts, meaning it will take quick release or through axle. The bottom bracket she’ll accepts Pressfit 30 BB’s and cranksets. The frame is also belt drive compatible. Tire clearance is phenomenal! I run 700c X 40mm tires during the spring, summer and fall. For the winter, I run 29 X 2.1″ tires. Fender and rack eyelets round out the package. Oh, and you have to see the double top tube!

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I built my frame up with a SRAM 11 speed groupset. I wanted enough gearing to get me and a fully loaded bike up dirt and gravel hills, so a 54/30 crankset and an 11-32 cassette paired with Rival derailers and shifters do the trick nicely. I went with Avid BB7 road disc brakes, 160mm rotors. I won’t mention tires, (that’s for another review) but the wheelset is Bontrager’s Affinity Comp Disc. The cockpit is a simple alloy seatpost, Thomson stem and a 15 degree flared handlebar for better control in the drops.

The WTF is for me, my go to bike, when conditions are less than stellar. In the rain, snow, mud, dirt and gravel, the WTF has done it all. It climbs exceptionally well for a 26+pound bike. When your riding a bike in this category, you need to throw out the weight and just enjoy the ride quality that a finely crafted steel bike offers. On 2 separate bikepacking trips, I loaded the bike down with frame bag, seatpack, handlebar bag, fork mounted extra large cage and 2 top tube bags. With about 40 extra pounds of gear, and my 180lbs., control was no issue. Overall, a great bike that is fully up to any task.72dpi-700pxl-hyper-limited-edition-pearlized-pinkFor 2017, Van Dessel offers the WTF in orange and pink. Two cool new colors that add a little flavor to an already exciting package.72dpi-700pxl-pearlized-orange-drive-side

What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is – The Chicago Transit Authority

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Eric reviews the Endura MT500 Overshoe II

Cozy toes for when the temperature drops and the snow sticks around.

Four season cycling can be a challenge if your bikes and wardrobe are not up to the task. A few years ago, I picked up a Cannondale CAADX, and hung up the road bike for the winter months.  The cyclocross bike now expands my riding opportunities year round and provides a welcome change from the roads, but there’s more to winter riding than knobby tires.  In search of a means to keep my toes warm, I set out for some advice at Action Bikes & Outdoors and spoke with TC.  A few questions later, I had the Endura MT500 Overshoe II in hand, and was hopeful for the right weather to test them out. image002

Now that winter has officially arrived with cold temperatures and snow, I’ve stretched them out a few times along the McDade Recreational Trail, as well as another occasion for a ride on the Sussex/Paulinskill Trails.  Weather conditions on these rides have been 30-35f, windy and upwards of 4 inches of slush, a great mix of conditions for these overshoes.  For those that have gone trail riding on a CX bike know, there is usually a need to stop and hike-a-bike at least once, so I’ve given these some performance opportunities.

The neoprene bootie remained waterproof and warm after multiple dismounts in the inches deep slush, with snow-caked feet, after miles of riding through snow at temperatures in the low 30’s.  img_4561

The toes are made with a molded rugged rubber material that provides a stable and grippy surface to walk over gravel, and through slush and down grassy slopes.  I’ve never owned a pair of overshoes, so getting them both on and off is a humorous exercise, as the fit is meant to be snug, which helps keep your shoes dry.  Finishing touches on the MT500 besides the well thought out toe box construction include heavy stitching all around, reflective logo, rear zipper panel accents, reinforced heel panel, and plastic coated zipper pull, which is easy to use with gloves on.  img_0169   For extended rides in temperatures lower than 35f, I prefer to also use adhesive toe warmers inside my shoes, but others might find that unnecessary.  All in all, if I had to rate these, I’d give them a solid 4 out of 5 stars.

Walks, Rides and Other Stuff

January 1st:

At 7am, my little girl decided that her morning walk was going to be on the trail instead of the road. I would like to think she wanted to be in nature to start the new year, but it turns out that she just wanted to follow the deer tracks. She’s the only dog I’ve seen that chases a deer into the woods and comes running back out with the deer chasing her.img_4558

Eric and I managed to get in a ride on the Mcdade Trail. With the weather expected to be below 30 degrees, we layered up and pushed off at 10am from Dingmans Falls through the mostly untouched snow, towards Buskill. I figured the cross country skiers would have packed it down by now, but we were lucky enough to have the fresh snow for traction. Honestly, we would have been better off on mountain bikes, but hey, that would have been too easy.

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The Mighty Delaware remains unfrozen!

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Around 11:00 it warmed up to about 35 degrees and the powdery snow started to turn slushy. Thankfully, the Mcdade Trail has very few hills, because Eric’s cantilever brakes were non existent for most of he ride.img_0166

In Bushkill, we found one of the cool log benches that are all over the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, next to a creek that was a perfect spot for a coffee break and it was a good time to shed a couple of layers as well as changing from lobster claw gloves to wool liners.

From there, we turned around and headed back to the parking area where we were surprised to find about 10-15 cars. People asking about the XCountry ski conditions and others hiking up to the falls. A nice ride to kick off the new year!

Coming soon, we will have a few reviews: Eric will review his new Endura Booties and the Bontrager Ion 800 headlight. I’ll review a couple bikes that got me through 2016.

What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Billy Joel – The Ballad of Billy the Kid

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2016 in Review

What a year it’s been. 2016 gave us a mild winter, a warm spring, a hot and sunny summer and a gorgeous fall foliage season. I was able to get in a lot of rides, on the road bike, the gravel bike and even a few mountain bike rides. I was able to ride over 100 miles twice. I caught a bit of the bike packing bug and did two sub 24 hour overnighters.

I’m not going to detail my yearly mileage, hours on the bike or elevation gained, because that is not what this blog is about. I’m simply going to tell you that I have had a wonderful year of riding with a lot of really cool people here in Milford, Pike County, the Poconos, Port Jervis, Sussex County and the entire area. I took some photos, drank a lot of coffee and settled in to a much more relaxed style of riding.

One thing I learned in 2016 is that most cyclists don’t race. They try to go too fast and miss everything that the world around them has to offer. For the last 20 years or so, that’s been me. I have tried in vain to keep up with faster riders. I now ride a little faster when I want to. But, dropping the speed a few miles an hour to take in the sights and stopping every now and again to have coffee makes a tough ride all the more enjoyable.

My modest goals for 2017:

Ride more!

A solo overnighter in the Delaware State Forest

A multi night group Bike Packing Adventure

2 road rides over 100 miles

2 gravel rides over 100 miles

50 mile mountain bike ride

Be a better father

Be a better husband

My first attempt at a 100 mile gravel ride will be the Lu Lacka Wyco Hundo in Jenkins Township, PA on April 23rd, 2017. It might be a bit of a challenge to train for a ride of that length, so early in the year, but I’m hoping that I’m not alone in this.

so far, it looks like another mild winter, hopefully that means more riding!

Happy New Year!

Crushing Snow

Even though it’s only Mid December, winter is here. It’s so frigid outside, that the entire east coast is experiencing a cold snap. While I was walking the dog in the snow, early Sunday morning, I figured there was no way I was going ride a bike or do much of anything outside. After more than enough coffee, my lovely wife suggested spending the day either hanging Christmas decorations or shopping. Hmm, what to do?

Well, the only way I could brave a day out shopping would be if I could spend a little time out on the bike first. So I layered up, put my mtb shoes, helmet and gloves by the fire for a few minutes and headed out on the Trek Stache.img_0157

The roads were covered in the white stuff, so I snuck through the woods, behind my house and into the Delaware State Forest. Not sure where I was going (but that’s the fun part, isn’t it?), I found a snow mobile trail that would have otherwise been brutal to ride over, but with the snow packed into it, I felt like I was on a pedal assisted sled. Somehow, that trail ended a little over a mile later at a driveway to a hunting cabin. I ventured down and ended up on Five Mile Meadow Road. It’s cool to find trails you never knew existed, and probably rode by more than a few times.img_0161

I jumped into the old Boy Scout camp and found some untouched, endless trails of 6-8 inches of snow. I worked my way past all the dilapidated buildings and dropped down to the lake. Rock Hill Pond, at the foot of the camp, which I believe is now part of the PA State Forest, is completely engulfed in nature. After propping my bike up for a pic, I attempted a sip out of my water bottle. I was only out for about an hour and my bottle was frozen. Lesson learned. Next time, I’ll carry my bottle or wear a hydration pack.img_0154

Pedaling up from the lake and out of the camp was an adventure. When I reached the gravel roads again, I felt as if I were rolling along a smooth section of blacktop. I scurried through the trees and back into my community, satisfied and ready to take on the day and the stores. But first, I would relax a bit and warm up by the fire.img_0156 What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Just the Classics – Santa Claus is Coming to Town (The Jackson 5 version) and Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer.jackson5-christmasalbum

 

Sussex Branch & Paulinskill Valley Trails

Just across the Delaware River from Milford, sits an old rail bed, formerly used by the Erie Lackawanna Railroad. Today, it is a multi use trail, used primarily by hikers and cyclists. The Sussex Branch Trail, travels from Branchville to Byrum Township, approximately 20 miles of primarily flat, gravel, dirt, grass and cinder. It crosses lakes, swamps and the Paulinskill River. It intersects with the Paulinskill Valley Trail at Warbasse Junction. The Paulinskill, formerly used by the New York, Susquehanna and Western Railway, is also gravel, dirt, grass and cinder. It goes upward from Warbasse at a 1-2% grade, making the return trip extremely fast.

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I hooked up with Eric at 7:30am at the Branchville Fire Department parking lot. At about 28 degrees, we were in for a chilly start. As we shoved off, we missed the trail head and pedaled in circles for 3 miles before hopping into the woods. Immediately, I knew we were on a pretty cool piece of real estate. img_0142

The Sussex Branch Trail is 4 feet wide with trees overhanging the six inch rut that serves as the best line to roll through. Wooden bridges cross the wet land that separate the many farms that dominate this beautiful county, tucked away in northern New Jersey. img_0141

We took a coffee and nature break at Warbasse Junction, and stayed on the Sussex for a few more miles. When we turned around, a few cyclists on fat Bikes came motoring by. In fact, we passed more than a few hikers, people walking their dogs and a group of women that were out running their way to warmth. img_0146

When we reached Warbasse Junction again, we hung a left onto the Paulinskill. Although, the Sussex Branch Trail is beautiful, quiet and rustic, it is not as well groomed as the Paulinskill, which is wider with and even surface from left to right. We pedaled up for a few miles, until we reached an area that was saturated from the recent rains, with water overflowing from a pond, right across the trail. This seemed a good place to turn around and head back to Branchville. As I previously stated, the Paulinskill has a slight grade and after the turn around, we really picked up some speed as we made our way back to the Sussex Branch Trail. We followed the trail all the way back into town, realizing where we missed the turn at the start. img_0145

Either of these two trails can be covered on a cyclocross bike, mountain bike or even a hybrid bike. They both travel through a few small towns with ample opportunities to refill fluids and stock up on food supplies. Now go out and ride!

What’s Playing: (What am I’m listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Steve Windwood – When You See a Chance220px-arc_of_a_diver_cover

 

Cold Gravel Morning

It was pretty cold on Sunday morning, tempts in the high 20’s around 9am. I’ve been battling the flu for the better part of a week and was not sure I could deal with the cold air well enough to enjoy some time on the bike. I really wanted to join those who opted outside on Friday, but just couldn’t pull myself out of bed.

I got a text from Anthony in the early morning, asking if I was planning to ride today. Feeling a little better, I decided to take him up on it and venture out. We made a plan to meet and ride through the Delaware State Forest for a little gravel adventure and enjoy the emergency access roads as Sunday is the only day that hunters are not occupying the entire area.img_0135Anthony is a strong rider with a lot of speed, so I though it would be cool to get him out in the woods and try to chase him a little. He is riding a brand new Lynskey Titanium bike that was expertly built up by TC at Action Bikes and Outdoor. The bike is light and looks like a true gravel or monstercross beast. It appeared to roll through the loosest gravel and hard pack dirt with ease.img_0133I won’t bore you with roads traveled. However, I will say that it felt great to get outside. It was cold for sure, but being off the bike , even if it’s just for a week and a half to recover, felt like forever. I know we need some snow this winter, but I’m certainly hoping for at least a few rides a month to keep the juices flowing.img_0132 That being said, if the weather is so terribly horrible, I will run, snowshoe or make snow angels, but I will not ride on the trainer. I haven’t for 2 years now and I’m sure it will survive without me. We’ll try a few more product reviews to keep the blog active and take the extra time to properly plan out some exciting adventures for 2017.

What’s playing (what am listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Robert Palmer – Bad Case of Loving You (doctor, doctor)img_0137

 

Update: Photo Contest Winner

Thank you for submitting your photos. There were some really beautiful shots and I hope the contest got a few people outside with their bikes, when they would have otherwise been in the warmth of their homes. 15032667_10209315403894708_1102839465245136816_n

The winning photo was submitted by Sean of his Masi cyclocross bike by a lake, on November 17th. Congrats, sunglasses will be coming your way shortly.

Tifosi Sunglasses Giveaway/Photo Contest

e91399a9-0ac6-4bd1-9966-4175f85a068dTo commemorate the 1 year anniversary of ridingmilford.com, we are having a photo contest, with the winner getting a set of brand new Tifosi Optics Lore multi lens sunglasses, in beautiful metallic red. A $70 value. Included are amber, smoked and clear lenses, soft and hard cases.

To enter: reply/comment to this post with a new photo of your bicycle in nature by this Saturday, November 19th, 2016 at 4pm. Winner will be chosen and contacted on Monday, November 21st, 2016.

 

 

 

Cold Coffee & Gravel

It may be mid fall, but it felt like winter on Saturday morning, with temperatures in the low 30’s. So, I layered up and joined Steve, Eric and Mike for a ride through the Delaware State Forest, with a lakeside cafe diversion. img_0114

We met up at the Five Mile Meadow Road Parking Area on Rt. 739. Pedaling the 6.5 mile distance of Five Mile, past numerous trucks parked off the road, we were careful to be loud enough to let hunters know we were not deer!

When we reached Silver Lake Road, we turned right, climbed the pot holed hill and made another right into Little Mud Pond Road, another gravel horseshoe, with a beautiful lake or shall I say pond. The boat launch, while blocked by a tree that was chewed in half by a beaver, served as our cafe this morning.

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Beaver lunch!
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Thermals, Blue Jeans and Coffee!

The wind off the lake made it difficult to light the gas stove and it never really got super hot. Oh well, cool coffee is better than no coffee!

We headed back out to Silver Lake Road and cruised over to Standing Tall Trail. One of my favorite roads, Standing Tall winds through the deer management area, staying at an almost even grade for three miles with one creek crossing. The gravel is loose this time of year, but you can still pedal rather quickly back to Five Mile Meadow Road. A left and we dropped back down to Rt. 739 and into the parking area. img_0118

Afterward, Mike, Steve and I enjoyed a “hot” cup of coffee at a local deli in Lord’s Valley. I’m gonna breakdown and pick up a Biolight stove. With colder days ahead, it’ll sure come in handy!

What’s playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – The Doors – Break on Throughimg_0120

 

Election Night Gravel Ride

Tuesday, after work, I met up with Eric and John for a night ride on the McDade Trail. I did not want to go home and watch any more of this election. A lengthly spin on the gravel surface was just the right diversion.img_0103

A couple of hours of pedaling appeared to be a good idea and it seems as though a few other people agreed. With headlamps mounted, we entered the trail from the Dingmans Falls parking area and rode towards Bushkill. It was still light out as we rode past the General Store and through the corn fields. You know it’s hunting season when your tires are crushing shotgun shells instead of corn. Maybe it’s me, but I’m not sure they’re biodegradable.

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John’s Bontrager 180 reflective jacket and helmet look cool when the light hits them

It was at times a challenge to keep our bikes on the trail as the leaves were piled a few inches thick in some areas. We decided to turn around at the bridge over Tom’s Creek. We turned our headlamps on and pedaled toward home. We laughed most of the way as a descent or sharp turn is not as easy to see at night. I say this because it was me that missed a turn and rode into the woods. Eric did the same, but recovered before he got too far off the trail.

Night time riding is different and although you can’t get lost on an out and back trail, pedaling in the dark helps create the adventure.

I went home, ate, showered and went right to sleep. I wasn’t going to let politics ruin my night. I didn’t find out who won the election until I got to work today. Whether or not your happy with this election, channel your energy by going outside. Ride, hike, paddle or run!

What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Blood, Sweat and Tears – Spinning Wheelimg_0105

 

 

Philly Bike Expo

On Saturday, I drove down to Philly to attend the Philadelphia Bike Expo. It was advertised as something of a cross between Inter-Bike and The North American Handmade Bicycle Show. Now, I’ve never been to the NAHBS, but I have been to Inter-Bike in Las Vegas, a 3 day show of all the industry has to offer. img_0101

The trip served a dual purpose as my wife and I took advantage of the opportunity to spend time with our daughter, who attends University a few blocks from the PA Convention Center. Arriving, finding parking and checking in were a breeze. The girls had shopping on their agenda, so I was on my own.img_0096

At check in, I was handed a ballot with all 35 hand made bicycle manufacturers listed. I simply had to pick one and drop it in the box on the way out. On display, were wheels, tires, tools, bike bags, clothing and almost every cycling related product. Hand made bikes  were spread, throughout the expo. Two of my favorite bikes on display were from Velo Orange, the Pass Hunter and the Campeur. Although Velo Orange was not on the ballot, their bikes and components are reminiscent of a time when things were rather simple and built to last, with a few modern touches. img_0091

After a few hours of checking out the goods, I met the girls for lunch at a fantastic Malaysian restaurant. Afterward, we went back to the convention center to check out a women’s book fair. Way too much estrogen for me, so I snuck back into the bike expo for one more quick look at all the bikes on the ballot. I won’t tell you how I voted, but here are some pics of the ones I thought stood out from the rest.

 

 

 

 

Mid Fall Classic

As the days get shorter and the weather gets cooler, I try to make the most out of every ride. Today, I met up with John and Eric and raced the moon around the Walpack loop and back to our starting point in Sandyston, NJ.

It was a crisp, mid fall day. A little cold for short sleeves, but too warm for a jacket. Perfect cycling weather! This being the time in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, that hunters are roaming the woods and gunshots can be heard throughout the day, it’s a good time for a road ride. img_0082

Riding through the Walpack Recreation Area has it’s advantages. Besides the incredible scenery, it’s usually traffic free. Pedaling out, it is always cool to see the Walpack Inn packed with cars and smoke coming from the chimney.img_0083

With a few weeks to go before the real cold weather kicks in, I hope to get a few more longer rides in before retiring the road bike for my gravel bike. Who knows, maybe a few more mountain bike rides to get me through the winter.

What’s playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) today – Styx – Loreleiimg_0084

 

 

Erie 80

erie-80Saturday was a magical day for cycling in the Tri-State area, especially The City of Port Jervis. The inaugural Erie 80 Mountain Bike race took place in the brand new Watershed Park Trails & Recreation Area. The trail system is the brainchild of Dejay Birtch, a Port Jervis native. Birtch currently lives in Arizona, but returns frequently to build trails. Dejay, along with TC Crawford, the owner of Action Bikes and Outdoor in Milford, plus an amazing volunteer trail crew, have carved out over 25 miles of trail. All their hard work was on display yesterday. img_0076

The registration and staging area took place in front of and  inside the tiki bar at the Erie Hotel and Restaurant. The Race drew over 150 registered riders, a huge number for a 1st year race. The Erie 80 is an 80 kilometer(50 miles) Race. A 40k and 12 mile Fun Race  were also offered. It all kicked off at the corner of Front Street and Jersey Avenue and headed up Pike Street, onto Orange Street, a left on Reservior Avenue and into the Watershed. img_0075

The volunteers really shined. Every turn was clearly marked, making it easy for all riders to stay on course. The aid station at mile 9 and again at 12 was stocked with energy snacks, water, soda and all kinds of goodies from Honey Stinger.  Trek Bicycles was on hand to help with repairs.

On a personal note, it was really cool to hit the trails with riders of all abilities, from extremely fast racers to average MTB enthusiasts to road riders, like me who were finding out just how hard mountain biking in a densely wooded forest can be.

Three miles in and we climbed to the top of Point Peter, treating the riders to a majestic view of Port Jervis, the Delaware river and the Catskill, Pocono and Kittatinny mountain ranges.

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A birdseye view of what rocks can do to a tire

I rode with friends, Jim from Long Island and Sean and Pete from South Jersey. At mile 6, Sean shredded his rear tire on a rock. He booted the tire with a candy wrapper and rode on for a little over a mile, when the hole proved to be too much for the foil wrapper to seal. From that point, he walked to the aid station, where Trek/Bontrager had a bin full of tires, tubes and a little of everything to keep the riders going. A quick tire change and Sean was back on the trail. Everyone endured a little pain yesterday, whether it was of the mechanical kind or physical, but it was well worth it.

The terrain was a mixed bag of hills, smooth trail and some rock gardens, until we re-entered after exiting the mile 12 aid station. From there, it was rock garden after rock garden, really challenging riders. In between the rocks and hills, were bench cut trails, that carved they’re way through the hills, while overlooking streams that flowed from reservoir to reservoir. Oh, and least I forget the amazing views of all three reservoirs.

The Race came to an end right where it all started, complete with a professional finish line, a beer garden and entertaining finishing ceremony. Don’t miss this race next year. If you don’t currently ride a mountain bike, start training, you won’t be sorry!

Results from the Erie 80 MTB race can be found here.

Bontrager Flare R

Tonight, I review the Bontrager Flare R tail light. I do not work for Bontrager or Trek. I am not paid to pitch their products. If I believe in a product, I simply talk it up. The Flare R is Bontrager’s best tail light, maybe the best tail light ever.

A little over a year ago, I saw a training video on the Flare R. I usually put in a couple thousand miles on the road and always knew that I needed something other than reflective clothing.img_0065

The next time I was at the shop, I picked one up and immediately put it on my road bike. It came charged. I couldn’t believe how bright it was. 65 Lumens does not sound like much, but if you value your eyes, don’t look directly into it.

The Flare R has 2 day-time modes and 2 night modes. In day mode: 65 lumens the Flare R lasts for 4.25 hours. At 35 lumens, it last for 10 hours! In night mode: 65 lumens last an impressive 23 hours and at 5 lumens steady, it lasts for 21 hours. It has a battery save mode at 5%, so it won’t die on the way home. Oh, and the Flare R can be seen from 2 km away, day or night.img_0067

After a year plus, and a lot of abuse, the Flare R is as bright and effective as it was right out of the box. It has protected me on the road and the trail during hunting season. The Flare R comes with a USB cable for speedy charges, a quick connect bracket to fit around your seat post and a seat bag clip. It pares easily with Bontrager’s Transmitter handlebar remote.

With all the technology that comes our way, a bicycle tail light gets little attention, but it’s the one thing that I will not go on the road without!img_0066

Morning Gravel

Every now and then, you are presented with some unexpected free time. What you do with that time is totally up to you. You could do some yard work, catch up on sleep or depending on the weather, crank out some extra miles. I took the day off from work today, to accompany my wife to an out of town, late morning doctor’s appointment. When my alarm went off at the usual 6am, because I forgot to reset it for later, I hopped out of bed, grabbed a quick cup of coffee, splashed some cold water on my face and jumped into my cycling clothes. img_0063

I won’t detail my entire ride, just that I pedaled out to Five Mile Meadow Road for a morning gravel spin. I touched Standing Tall Trail and attempted to ride up to Minisink Lake via Flat Ridge Road. That did not happen, as a Road crew was spreading some fresh gravel across the road. The new stuff was too soft, like riding on sand. They said that after Flat Ridge, they were going to hit Five Mile. It will probably be about a week to 10 days before the stone is compacted enough to ride on. I spun around and headed home, satisfied with just over 22 miles. With this week’s Indian Summer still hanging around, any ride is a good ride! Get outside and take advantage!

What’s playing (What am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – The Doobie Brothers – China Grove

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Watershed Trails

In two short weeks, the City of Port Jervis, NY will play host to the Erie 80 Mountain Bike Race at the Watershed Park Trail System. Since I’ve only gotten one mtb ride in all year, I figured it was time to test my skills with a few miles in the Watershed. I met up with Big John at Reservior #1 at 9am for what we hoped would be an epic day in the woods.

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From the parking area, we headed up Reservior Road. Right out of the gate,  the loose gravel and dirt road climbs for about 1.6 miles. Nothing steep, but continous as we turned right on Lenni Lenape Trail and continued to climb until Lenape merged with Brant Path and leveled off. Here, we shedded our outer layers and checked the map to make sure we wouldn’t be riding in circles. At the trail head, an encased map of the entire watershed is color coded, enabling the rider to take a snapshot of the map for later reference on the trail. Having already had our share of jeep trails, we went looking for some singletrack.

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Big John capping the hill

We made a right on Box Baum Road and after another half mile of gravel, we met up with Kyle, who was leading a group through the trail system. He pointed us into Mahackamack Trail and we hung a left on Lost Bear Trail. Finally, some singletrack. Nothing smooth. A lot of rocks and roots, but it rolled real nice for a couple of miles, looping right back to Box Baum Road and dropping us along the eastern side of Reservior #3. The descent allows for a clear view of the reservior and the Deerpark Dam.

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From there, we turned left and enjoyed the rocky decline down Reservior Road. Before hitting Reservior #1 again, we made a left on the Beginner’s Berm and followed it up to Tallulah. Not a good idea. Tallulah is an advanced trail that goes skyward for about 3/4 of a mile. This is where we did some hike a bike. With a left turn at the top on Lenni Lenape, we cruised back down to Reservior Road and dropped back to the parking area.

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Holding on for dear life!

We did not get to see the entire watershed. Next time, we’ll attempt to hit DeJay Downs and some of the Expert Trails to get a real feel for the place. What I’ve seen so far, the trails are well marked and color coded. As long as you stay on the trail system, it would be pretty hard to get lost. From what I heard, the trails are only half finished. I can’t wait to see what DeJay, TC and crew have in store for the rest of the park!

We finished it off  with a feast at Roy’s Corner at Homer’s Restaurant in Port Jervis. According to the Times Herald Record, the original restaurant opened in 1852.

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What’s Playing: (What am I’m listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Stevie Wonder – Sir Duke

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Not Giving In

As the days get shorter and the weather gets cooler, opportunities for road rides begin to dwindle. It’s either early morning rides and that means layering up for the 35-45 degree tempatures or after work rides that finish in the dark.

I knew that I wanted to get a ride in yesterday or today. I tried yesterday and suffered through a mechanical incident that saw me abandon after 3 miles. Today, with renewed vigor, I hoped on my bike at Action Bikes and Outdoor and headed towards Port Jervis. I was aiming for a climb up Point Peter and a loop around River Road, but just as I hit Matamoras, I rode right into a pothole.

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Tire Sidewall Puncture

As soon as I heard the loud pop, I knew I had a flat and pulled over to assess the damage. Realizing that the sidewall of my tire was ripped, I had to figure out a way to repair the tire enough to get me back to the shop. After pulling out the old tube, I took a piece of cardboard out of my seat bag and placed it inside the tire, over the tear. I replaced the tube and blew up the tire to about 50lbs of pressure. I did not want to blow the tire up to capacity as I was afraid the tube would come through. It was just enough to pedal the 5.5 miles back to Milford. Once at the shop, I immediately changed the tire and headed back out to finish what I started.

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With daylight at a premium, I decided that quantity was not as important as quality. I rode through Milford and made a right on Foster Hill Road for a 2+ mile climb. Foster Hill starts out rather steep, levels off in sections, gets steeper in other sections and continually climbs right up to the Malibu Dude Ranch, an 800 acre resort that offers old west style vacations, horse back rides on scenic trails and a rustic restaurant and tavern.

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Getting up the hill is the work, stopping at the ranch is the reward. Horses come right up to the fence, like they’re greeting you as you enter. I took a quick photo op and zipped up for the descent. At the bottom of the hill, I took Pear Alley back to the shop. I almost gave in and called it a day when I flatted. I’m so glad I regrouped and made it happen.

What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – The Steve Miller Band – Jet Airliner

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Press Release: Erie 80 Mountain Bike Race

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The City of Port Jervis Holds Erie 80 Mountain Bike Race in City Park before Halloween

Port Jervis, NY – The city is working hard at showcasing the new trail system in the newly opened Watershed Park which will host the Erie 80 Mountain Bike Race on October 29th.  The race will have three distance options for participants including a 12 mile, 25 mile, and 50 mile course.  Trail crews have been working hard to build a fun, challenging, fast, and technical course attracting mountain bike riders and racers of all abilities.  Racers will face single track terrain with rocks, logs, roots, and water crossings.

The start of the race will take place on Front Street with a police escort to Brewers Reservoir.  From there, racers will give it their personal best and finish the course in the fastest time possible.   Racers will be categorized by age, bicycle type, and ability level.  Prizes will be distributed to all of the top 3 finishers within each category.

The City of Port Jervis has had a tremendous amount of help and support with the organization of the Erie 80 race.  Dejay Birtch is heading off the event and has designed the course.  Other sponsors include Action Bikes and Outdoor, Polar Bottle, Dark Horse Cycles, Fox N Hare Brewing Co, Joe Fix Its, BTI, Honey Stinger, Swift Wick Apparel, Newburgh Brewing, Dumonde Tech Racing Oils, Stan’s No Tubes, Port Jervis Brick Oven Pizza, Advocate Cycles, and Shop Rite of Montague.

Registration is open now on Bikereg.com!!   Information and registration is also available at http://www.discoverportjervis.com.

A New Gravel Loop

There is no better way to take full advantage of the incredible fall foliage than a bike ride. On this picture perfect day, a gravel ride was in order. So I hooked up with Eric at Action Bikes and Outdoor for a late afternoon ride through the Zimmerman Farm and the Conashaugh Horse Trail.

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We left the shop and cruised through Milford, to Milford Beach and onto the McDade Trail. At Raymondskill Road, we hopped onto Rt. 209 and made a right at the second Zimmerman Road entrance. Zimmerman Road goes through the Zimmerman Farm and onto horse trails that lead up to Raymondskill Falls. We made a right at the horse trail and went through two creek crossings before climbing an extremely steep and winding hill with loose gravel that made the climb doable at best. I walked up the middle section as my rear wheel was all over the place.

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After crossing a rather deep, dried up creek bed, we beared left and that’s where the real climbing began. The roadway, full of gullys from water run off, became an obstacle course that just kept going up. Somehow, we both managed to grind it out as we capped the hill and turned left on Conashaugh Road, a hard packed pea gravel road that goes from Milford Road to Long Meadow Chapel Road.

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After about a mile, we went around the gate and onto the Conashaugh Horse Trail. This was new territory for me. Immediately, we dropped down they rail, which was just a bit wider than single track. The trail surface contained wooden steps, every 50 feet or so for almost a half mile. The road came down in a swampy valley and went back up for a little bit and dropped back down to Zimmerman Road, right at the driveway of the Marie Zimmerman Estate. We cruised onto the property and rode around the house and through the gardens.

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We pedaled out of the he estate, down Zimmerman Road and made a left on Rt. 209 and back to the McDade Trail. Finally, some flat terrain. Although we were moving pretty quickly we talked all the way back as we rode from daylight to darkness, from open trail to hidden forest. Rolling off the trail, we rode past the Metz ice house and down the gravel trail along the river (Delaware River). The trail, only a half mile long, ends at a steep, paved hill that puts you right in the middle of Milford.

Every bike ride gives you the opportunity to explore new areas. Today, we were lucky enough to find a new loop through the horse trails and see another part of the Zimmerman Farm. Here’s some more pics:

The Knob

If you ride anywhere near Milford, you’ve heard of the The Knob. If you’ve even been through Milford at night, you’ve seen The Knob. The Knob sits atop the Raymondskill Ridge in the Cliff Park section of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. The Cliff Trail and the Quarry Trail intersect the Knob Trail. There are more than eight miles of Trail to connect in the Cliff Park area. Any one of the climbs rewards the rider or hiker with a fantastic view. In fact, the cover photo for this blog was one I took about 3 years ago, after hiking to the top.

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Another view from The Knob

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Today, I left from the Action Bikes and Outdoor and accessed the Milford Knob trailhead at the North Contact Station. After climbing for about a mile, I made a left on the Quarry Trail and a right on the Cliff Trail and rode up to the Knob. I pedaled down the single track along the ridge to also get a view of the Milford Bridge, the Delaware River and the vast corn fields along the river.

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I descended into the Milford Cemetary, turned around and rode back up and around to the North Contact Station. My aim was to ride out to Raymonskill Road and Jump on the McDade Trail for an easy spin back to Milford. I lost my navigational skills for a moment and ended up coming out the same way I went in. I rode down Rt. 209 to Raymondskill and entered the McDade Trail.

The Knob is a nice easy hike or bike ride that can be started from anywhere in town. There are some steep sections that require low gears or possibly a little hike a bike.

Whats Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) today – Supertramp – The Logical Song

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Lazy Weekend Spin

Rain, rain go away. After five straight days of rain, enough already! Anyway, I got a small window today to get out and get the blood flowing through my legs again. I had more than the required recovery period, following last weekend’s monster ride.

I decided to do a road ride and stay out of the mud and puddles that cover the gravel roads and trails.

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Matt at Action Bikes and Outdoor, suggested a route that covered some familiar roads and some new ones. I headed out under the dark grey skies at around 3:30pm. After navigating Milford, I pedaled across the bridge into Montague, NJ and up Deckertown Turnpike. Deckertown gets vertical immediately. You climb for just about 2 miles. A right on New Road and nice spin through the quiet Autum landscape. As you get to Rt. 206, Flatbrook Farm is on the left with their farm stand on the right side of the road, serving up fruits and veggies, fresh off the farm. It seems that this time of year, farm stands pop up all over the place, one of the perks of The Autum season.

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One of the many farm stands along Rt. 206

A short ride on 206 and a left on Hotalen Road. Hotalen is a shaded street with very little traffic. It comes to a fork at the top. I missed the turn and went up the hill. At the top, I checked the map on my phone and spun around. I should have veered right at the fork and descended Back down to Rt. 206. I wanted to get off the main drag, so I turned left on Bridges Way and right on Layton Hainsville Road.

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After a flat mile, I hung a left on Jager Road and climbed up the backside and dropped down, making a sharp right on Old Mine Road. You can reach speeds of over 45mph on Jager, just be careful as Old Mine comes up rather quickly.

Old Mine Road is the quintessential country Road. The only problem this time of day is that the shadows on the road surface make it extremely difficult to see all the pot holes, even on this overcast day. So, I soft pedaled all the way to the Milford Bridge. As luck would have it, I got to ride about 10 mph, right next to a deer that was trotting along side of me for about 1000 feet. Not spooked, she just eased her way back into the woods. Crossing the bridge, I caught a glimpse of the early fall foliage on the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware River. I hope the weather cooperates and allows me a few rides a week this month as I have signed up for the Erie 80, a 50 Mile Mountain bike race in the Port Jervis  Watershed trail system, on October 29th. My lack of Mtb skills it are making me think I might have gotten over my head a bit on this one. We’ll see. I’ll detail that race very soon in another post.

What’s playing: (What am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Argent – Hold you head up

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Maple City Century – Gravel

On Sunday, I traveled to Honesdale, PA with Eric, Matt, Bob and Kyle, to do the Maple City Century, a mixed terrain 100 miler that consisted of about 85% gravel and dirt roads and just over 9,000 feet of climbing. The route brings you through most of rural Wayne County and borders the Delaware River and New York State in several sections. If you haven’t been to this part of Northeastern PA, check it out, it’s beautiful, especially during the fall foliage season.

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100, 62 and 30 mile options are offered. Each route different, but challenging in their own way. The 30 mile option gave riders a glimpse of what pedaling in Wayne County is all about, on mostly dirt and gravel roads.The 62 and 100 mile routes include long, steep climbs through farm land, logging roads and every kind of back road you can imagine.

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Action Bikes and Outdoor was well represented

It was chilly at the start, about 36 degrees, but warmed up to the mid 60’s at mid day. I did not get a chance to sample the 30 and 62 mile routes. I was up in the air about whether to do the 62 or 100 but made a game time decision to push through the 100 mile course. I was rewarded for my efforts with amazing views, awesome rest stops and a chance to ride with some fantastic people. Matt and Bob rode the 62 miler as Matt took care of repairs for the riders at the start and had to wait for the masses to depart. Kyle and Eric joined me on this epic journey.

The 100, left from behind the Post Office in Honesdale at 8:20am and rolled through town with a Police escort. 2 miles later, the gravel adventure began. I compartmentalized the ride into 4 sections, divided by the 3 rest stops. The first section was hilly to say the least. But, anyone who cycles in Northeastern, PA knows there are no flat roads here. Just ups and downs and ups and downs.

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The ride organizer made all routes available for download to a GPS enabled device. Cue sheets were also made available. However, the course was expertly marked out with easily visible color coded signs at every turn. At mile 33, we arrived at the first rest stop and were greeted with friendly volunteers and an array of energy bars, gels, fruit, trail mix, water and energy drink. Volunteers signed in all riders, to ensure they reached the checkpoint safely.

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Eric certainly approved of the descent!

The next section began with a hill, just up the road from the rest stop. Another 15 or so miles or gravel and we hit Brown Trout Trail. This extremely technical, section lasted for five miles. With the side of a mountain to the right and a cliff to the left, the six foot wide trail seemed suited for a full suspension MTB, Fat Bike or ATV.  With a waterfall coming right through, a washed out portion of the trail required a little hike a bike. This was the most challenging part of the course.

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Just as we pushed off Brown Trout Trail, we arrived at rest stop #2. What a welcome sight after bouncing around for more than 40 minutes. After filling bottles and devouring everything in sight, we saddled up and headed out into the beautiful countryside. We saw some odd old homes, rustic churches and more than a few cattle.

At mile 75, we pulled into rest stop #3. This seemed like a great place to sit down and stretch a bit. With only 25 miles to go, finishing certainly seemed like a reality. Just a few more hills and a lot more gravel!

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Thanking the Gods for a beautiful day!

I kept telling myself that the big climbs were behind us. That didn’t work very well as hill after hill punished every weary leg that pedaled on. I have to say that Eric really got me through this ride. He kept me going when I wasn’t feeling too good. As for Kyle, we only saw him for a few seconds at the start. Every time we hit a sketchy section of trail, I did imagined Kyle laughing and riding right through. It was still light out when we rolled back into Honesdale, 8 hours and 47 minutes later. A quick clothing change at the car and a brief walk to the Irving Cliff Brewery for a well deserved post ride feast.

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A beer growler for every participant

Kudos to Ride Director Zach Wentzel and his staff for putting on a first class ride. The course markers were spot on, the rest stops were fully stocked and the volunteers were friendly and helpful. The course was everything it was supposed to be and more. It’s already on the calendar for next year. September 24th, 2017. Save the date!

 

 

 

 

 

What is Gravel Grinding?

It’s 8am on a Sunday Morning. I’ve just unloaded my bike from the top of my car. I’m doing some last minute checks to make sure I have enough food and water to get me through the day, as I’m about to embark on a 30-35 mile bike ride through mostly gravel roads in the Delaware State Forest. That day, I rode through the state forest, onto the pavement for a couple of miles and back into the forest, with a couple of diversions on dirt roads and grassy trails to end with 32 miles of an all road adventure.

This type of riding is most commonly called “gravel grinding”. Some call it “adventure cycling” and some refer to it as “all road riding”. Whatever you call it, it’s just plain fun.

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2017 Kona Sutra LTD

Gravel Grinding has been popular in the midwest for the better part of a decade. Many of the big gravel races in the US are found there because of the extensive network of gravel and dirt roads that sprawl across the region. Here in the northeastern part of the country, gravel grinding is catching on. In this area alone, we have access to numerous gravel roads that are part of the state forest as well as the McDade Trail, which is a 32 mile gravel and dirt trail, connecting Milford to Stroudsburg as part of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, along with many other off the beaten path options.

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The best part about gravel grinding is that you don’t need a specific bike to get you going. You can pedal across gravel or dirt on a mountain bike, road bike, cyclocross bike, dual sport bike, comfort bike, whatever, just make sure you have enough tread on your tires to shed a little mud and stone. However, most bicycle companies are now producing “gravel bikes”. A good choice for people who just want to have 1 bike. A bike that allows a lot of options for two wheeled adventure. You can hit the gravel, ride in a gran fondo, throw racks and fenders on for loaded touring or just use it as an everyday commuter. Action Bikes and Outdoor, right in the heart of Milford, stock several models of gravel bikes, along with every type of bike and accessory as well as kayaks, paddles and most things for the outdoor enthusiast. Stop in, they are happy to offer advice on where to ride. They even have great paper maps and resources to help you on your journey.

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The beauty of gravel grinding is it gets you out of traffic and puts you right in the middle of nature. There’s no need to hammer through the woods. Slow down, enjoy the scenery and take in everything that nature has to offer. You won’t regret it. In fact, there seems to be a growing number of riders in our area that love having the opportunity to pedal in areas that until recently seemed foreign. On both sides of the Delaware River, there are trails and roads that lead to waterfalls, farms, corn fields, breathe taking views, wildlife sightings, streams, creeks and lakes.

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If you are up for the adventure, try one of the areas local gravel races. The Maple City Century, on September 25, 2016 starts in Honesdale and takes you through beautiful and scenic Wayne County on mostly dirt and gravel roads. In October, Action Bikes and Outdoor sponsor the Erie 80. An 80K gravel, dirt and paved MTB ride that shows you all
that Port Jervis has to offer. If you are not looking for an organized race, there is usually a group riding from somewhere. Mostly from the shop parking lot.

So if I’ve peaked your interest just a little bit, get out and pedal a quiet country road, you’ll be planning your next gravel ride before you load your bike back on the car.

A Little Gravel Prep

Getting out today was harder than I thought. I got up at 6:30am to meet Eric for a morning ride. I took the dog for a walk and got wet as it rained hard for about 10 minutes. I text Eric and opted for a few more hours sleep over a wet ride. He manned up and went out for a rain ride. I waited until 3pm, when it was dry and the forecast looked clear to venture out into the woods.

I’m planning to ride in the Maple City Century next Sunday in Honesdale, PA. It’s a 100 mile gravel adventure with lots of climbing. So, I wanted to just get a few extra miles in on some loose gravel roads to help prepare for the event.

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I rode out of my driveway and up through my community, then veered into the woods via a deer trail and onto Five Mile Meadow Road. I haven’t been on a bike since Tuesday, so I took it easy as I let my legs warm up to the hills. I headed out to Silver Lake Road and climbed up the monster hill before turning left onto Flat Ridge Road.

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About halway up Flat Ridge, I met up with Bob, another local cyclist that was also training for the Maple City Century. He was doing almost he same ride that I was doing today. After, pedaling up to Minisink Lake and turning around, I came back down Flat Ridge and took Bob’s advice when I turned right on Coon Swamp Road. Coon Swamp is gravel and loose packed dirt. It continues for a couple of miles and comes to an end at the top of a hill, with a cool camping spot, over looking Coon Swamp Lake.

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Coming out of Coon Swamp, just before I got back to Flat Ridge, I was startled as I noticed a black shape in the roadway. It was a huge black bear. I fumbled for my phone to take a photo, but he scampered away as I tried to get closer. Probably better off for me. It never ceases to amaze me what beautiful creatures they are.

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Back on Flat Ridge, I rode on, knowing how lucky I am to have this incredible state game land, with all the gravel emergency access roads, right in my backyard. I descended down Silver Lake Road and hung a left back onto Five Mile Meadow Road. From there, I pedaled through the deer trail and home.

I’ve written about this area a few times before, but I felt compelled, as a new road or trail, especially one that ends high above a lake, providing superior views, needs me to tell you about it, so you can go ride it and see for yourself!

What’s Playing: (What am I’m listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – The Babys – Isn’t It Time

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Tour de Force – Day 4

The final day of the TDF is always bittersweet. I’m happy to get home and get back to my daily routine, but I’m also sad that it will be another year before I get to see all the awesome people that I have the privelage to be associated with for the last 15 years.

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We started with a transport over to Liberty State Park in Jersey City. After a few wrenches were turned and photos were snapped, we were led out by a multitude of New Jersey Police agencies with a fantastic escort through Jersey City, Hoboken, Fort Lee and all the wonderful cities and towns along the Jersey side of the Hudson River. What came next was unusual. The Port Authority Police Department along with the Fort Lee Police Department and the NYPD, shut down the George Washington Bridge to escort us into the greatest city on the world.

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The riders were given the entire right lane of the bridge. Most charity tours are relegated to the bike path along side the bridge. We snaked into Manhattan and eventually onto Riverside Drive for a cool ride above the river and down the west side. We hit the Henry Hudson Parkway and again had a lane shut down for us. For 15 years, we have been treated well by our own department, but never to this extent.

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Dropping down to 12th Avenue, we were given free passage all the way to the Freedom Tower and the 9/11 Memorial. After a moment of silence to remember all victims of that horrible day, we pedaled over to Battery Park, where we were treated to a ceremony, honoring our efforts. 14322434_773391086155118_6003259236222251780_n

As the TDF came to a close, we said our goodbyes and expressed our hope to see everyone next year. Our year end meeting is in October, where we will vote on how all monies raised will be donated. We will also finalize our route for next year and immediately start planning for the 2017 event. You can check out what we do and how we do it by dropping by our web page at http://www.tourdeforceny.com. I leave you with yet, a few more photos:

 

Tour de Force – Day 3

This may have been the best weather we have ever had for the Tour de Force. Low 80’s and absolutely no wind. The road was flat as can be for most of the way. Really, things could not have gone better today.

Normally, I would take this 1 day that I ride to hammer as hard as I can and finish as fast as possible. But, today, I decided to ride with my pal and ex-partner, Mike and his son Sean. Mike is a unique rider. He is the only person to have ridden every mile of every year for the first 15 years of the Tour de Force.

We pedaled out of Island Beach State Park in Tom’s River, NJ and rode along the coast for the first 35 miles. When we reached Belmar, we rode up on the Boardwalk for a few hundered feet. From mile 38 to mile 49, the route took us onto the Atlantic Highlands Rail Trail. A scenic fitness path, it kept the riders off the busy Jersey Shore streets.

A few miles after coming off the trail, we were treated to a series of hills, that to be honest were just about the only inclines on the route. At the top of one of the hills, a 9/11 memorial sat in a garden, overlooking Sandy Hook and the Atlantic Highlands.

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We cruised along the rest of the course together and enjoyed the sea air, all thanks to the incredible effort of our support team. The sag support and rest stops are second to none. These volunteers, are what make this well oiled machine run so smoothly. The local Police Departments took care of the busy intersections, allowing our riders to pass through saftely.

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Pulling into the beach in Old Bridge, NJ, where the riders grouped up to be escorted over the Liberty Bridge, I was happy to have had the opportunity to ride today. I jumped into a car and headed to the hotel in Woodbridge, our finish line for the day, to get ready to greet the riders with medals to commerate their amazing efforts. Now, I leave you with a few more pics of this amazing day:

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Tour de Force – Day 2

What a beautiful day. Low 80’s and sunny with just a little wind. The day started with a ferry ride from Lewes, Delaware to Cape May, NJ. Getting everyone on the ferry was a challenge with all the support vehicles, but the ferry crew was more than up to the task. The Cape May Ferry is always a nice trip. It gives everyone a chance to talk. Night time is filled with food, spirits and tired bodies. So, a little diversion in the morning, never hurts.

The ride was short, only 54 miles. Out to Rt. 9 with a tour of historic Cape May.  The riders pedaled through the fantastic sea air for the better part of 3-4 hours, ending in a parking lot near the Tropicanana Hotel and Casino, in Atlantic City, NJ.

Days 1 and 4, riders wear the current year’s jersey. Day’s 2 ans 3, custom jerseys from hometowns and various teams the have been created for the ride, rule the day.

A short day callls for a short post. Here are a few photos from today:

 

 

Tour de Force – Day 1

Well, day 1 is upon us. This is the day that first time riders, will find out if they trained hard enough, prepared properly and packed everything they will need for this 4 day event. Each rider, raises a minimum amount to gain entry into the ride. Even the support staff have to meet a fundraising goal. Riders and support staff, come from all corners of the country.

In 2002, our original starting point was the Pentagon in Washington, DC, and we rode to the World Trade Center in New York City. We have done that ride as well as the reverse route several times. We have also ridden from New York to Boston (Yankee Stadium to Fenway Park) and Boston to New York. This year we decided to start at RFK Stadium in Washington and ride to the NYC Police Memorial, around the corner from the World Trade Center. img_3817

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The Metropolitan Police Department escorted the ride out from RFK to the Capitol and around the District and handed us off to the Pince Georges County Police as we crossed the Maryland line. I drive a support vehicle for 3 out of 4 days, as the logistics of the tour have not allowed myself or my colleagues the opportunity to ride the entire way for several years now. I plan to ride day 3 as that appears to be the lightest traffic day with little to no problems all the way to the finish.

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Once we hit the first rest stop at mile 22, we led the riders out 8 more miles and released them at their own pace. Immediately, the pack went from a long sea of blue to a spread out group with each rider finding his or her cadence. We keep cars with the front of the pack as well as a sweep vehicle to trail the last rider. Several support vehicles, buses and trucks are along the route to lend support to riders in need. Mechanics ride back and forth along the route to assist with any issues (mostly tube punctures).

Mile 40 at the Maryland Transportation Authority was the lunch stop. (The tour provides breakfast and lunch each day as well as 4 nights lodging in superior hotels and a banquet on the 3rd night). After crossing the Bay Bridge, riders head over to Rt. 404 to complete the last 60 miles to Rehoboth Beach, our destination for day 1.

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Rt. 404 is a long, flat section of road that winds through corn fields in rural Maryland and Delaware. Farms stands are everywhere, offering local fruit and vegetables, giving us the freshest supplies for our remaining rest stops. When the last rider reached the hotel, the party began. The entire parking lot is lined with TDF trailers, with just the right amount of beverages to rehydrate our weary riders.

A few more pics from today:

 

 

Tour de Force – Registration

In a prior post, I mentioned a ride called the Tour de Force. This is a 4 day ride from Washington, DC to NYC on or about September 11th. All money raised is donated directly to the families of Police Officers killed in the line of duty. I, along with my brother Mike and my partner Mike founded the tour in 2002. Tomorrow, we will embark on our 15th annual version of this incredibly fullfilling journey.

In 2001, I was a NYC Police Detective, assigned to the Bronx Robbery Squad. Immediatly after the first plane hit the World Trade Center, we were mobilized. My squad commandeered a city bus, cleaned out a Bronx supermarket and we rushed to the scene. I won’t even try to explain the horror that was Ground Zero. We were there for the better part of 2 weeks. In 20+ years in the NYPD, I learned a lot about people. But nothing could have prepared me for how this cowardly act could have such a profound affect on my life and how this amazing country that I have the privelage to live in, would change forever.

Anyway, last night, I arrived here in Falls Church, Virginia to prepare for today’s registration process. At 3pm, the buses from New York are scheduled to arrive at the hotel, carrying the bulk of our 300 riders. Tomorrow we start our first leg of the tour with a 107 mile ride. But, today, I was able to get out at 9am for a 30 mile pedal around the W&OD Trail, a paved rail trail the runs through Washington and the surrounding suburbs.

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A couple miles in, I got turned around as the trail ended and went into downtown Falls Church before picking back up again a few blocks away. A woman named Jennifer, who runs a trade association in the Washington, DC area, was kind enough to show me a loop that went around Reagan National Airport, through Arlington, Virginia and back around to Falls Church.

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The W&OD is an urban rail trail for sure. However, it runs along the Potomac River in spots and encompasses just enough local park land with beautiful wooden bridges to give it a lively feel. After about 30 miles, I veered off the trail a headed back to the hotel, ready to tackle the day’s events.

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Tomorrrow, I’ll have some great photos of the start and I’ll provide some more details about the Tour de Force.

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BikePacking, Part 2

The bikepacking bug came biting again. Last week, I received a message from Will and Kyle that they were planning an overnighter in Promised Land State Park. The thought of a fire, dehydrated food and camp coffee, oh yeah, I was in. I’ve been cultivating my next overnighter on the bike since my last trip. Will plotted out a route from Shohola, so all we had to do was pack, pedal and relax.

I planned on taking my Van Dessel WTF again with my large seatbag, frame bag and handlebar bag. Knobby tires on a route that included 90% pavement was probably not the smartest idea I’ve had. I went with a Camelback instead of a backpack, because I freed up some room with a hammock instead of a tent.

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Friday came and the weather was perfect for a summer outing. At 85 degrees during the day and 60 degrees at night, with no rain in the forecast, we were able to pack light as we did not need to consider the thought of a storm. I met Will at Bridge Park, on Twin Lakes Road in Shohola. Kyle had a prior obligation and left from home. We rode to Rt. 6 and pedaled up to Rt. 434(Well Road) and made a left. We climbed up and over Rt. 739 where the road changed to Blooming Grove Road. As soon as you cross over Rt. 739, you enter the twilight zone. Well, not really, but it certainly seemed like life slowed down a bit.

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I think we saw one or two cars, the entire time on Blooming Grove Road. The landscape included quiet, country homes, set way back off the road and farms situated on lush green grass with well maintained barns. As we crossed Rt. 402 and came into the town of Blooming Grove, we passed what appeared to be the only commercial establishment, the Blooming Grove Tavern. The parking lot was at full capacity.

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We made a left on Egypt Road and were treated to a really nice red barn, a waterwheel and a lazy creek. Egypt Road seemed to go slightly up for the entire 3 miles. A left hand turn at the end, put us on Rt. 390, the main thoroughfare leading into Promised Land. We rolled up and down Rt. 390 for 6 miles and made a right on Lower Lake Road. We dropped down the narrow park road for 2 miles to our campsite. As we pulled up, Kyle was already there waiting to tell us about the alternate route he took on mostly dirt roads.

We dismounted, began to unpack and setup camp. I chose to go with a hammock this time, instead of a tent, so my setup was fairly easy and quick. After our last trip, TC from Action Bikes and Outdoor in Milford, highly recommmended a hammock and I don’t think I’ll ever go back in a tent again.

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We collected wood and fired up our camp stoves to get ready for a well deserved dinner after a hard ride with over 2,200 feet of climbing on loaded gravel bikes. By the time we finished eating, the fire was roaring and we shared some laughs. I indulged in a little red wine (Sangiovese), that I transported in a steel growler on the front fork of my bike. By 10pm, exhausted, I retired to my hammock and pulled the bug fly over my head and slipped into a deep sleep.

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Again, I had to work the next day, so I woke up early and packed up my gear as I boiled water. After securing everything to my bike, I gulped down a hot cup of coffee and headed out. I snaked up Lower Lake Road and out on Rt. 390. That early in the morning, the traffic was a lot lighter than the previous evening.

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About halway home, I had to stop and take a picture at the Blooming Grove Tavern. The terrain was a lot less hilly in this direction and when I hit Rt. 739 I turned right and rode directly to my house. Another trip in the books. The next one will have to be away from a campground as camping in the deep woods provides a unique challenge that begs to be explored.

What’s Playing: (What am I’m listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Peter Wolf – Lights Out

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Pike County Loop

The other day, I did a really cool ride, that tested my climbing legs, with a few long but gradual hills. I wanted to try something a little different, with pieces of other routes mixed in to a form a loop that started off really slow, leveling out in the middle, it got pretty fast for the last 10 miles, thanks to a few leg loving descents.

Although, the weather was near perfect, and I was completely rested and ready for an epic ride, I hit a few bumps in the road that derailed me a bit, but not enough to spoil this awesome experience.

I departed Action Bikes and Outdoor in the heart of Milford, and made my way over to Rt. 6. Just before Apple Valley Restaurant, I made a left on Owega Turnpike and eased past some well manicured properties and up to Grey Towers.Grey Towers was the home of Gifford Picnchot, the first Chief of the US Forest Service and Pennsylvania’s Governor for 2 terms. Built in 1886, Grey Towers is a historic site that was donated by Gifford’s son to the US Forest Service in 1963 along with the 102 acres that it sits on. As I pulled my phone from my jersey pocket, to take a photo, I hit my first bump. My phone was dead. A miscalculation that does not happen often. So any photos here were taken from the internet. I pedaled back onto Owega Turnpike and back to Rt. 6. and labored uphill for about 4 miles.

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I turned left on Frenchtown Road and cruised past some nicely situated farm homes. Frenchtown connects Rt. 6 to Raymonskill Road. Turning right on Raymonskill, the road drops for a little less than a mile as I made the sharp turn onto Nelson Road. A short climb and a left on Aspen Drive took me through the Woodlands, a gated but accessible lake community. I made a right on Log Tavern Road and climbed up past the Pike County Library, the new Dingmans Park and another left on busy Rt. 739, the main thoroufare through Dingman Township and Dingmans Ferry. This is where the road drops down all the way across Milford Road, Rt. 209 and the Dingmans Bridge. A left on Old Mine Road and I cruised through the scenic by way that connects the Dingmans Bridge and the Milford Bridge. About halfway, I hit my other bump in the road in the form of a flat rear tire.

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After a quick tube change, I was on my way back to Milford. As I crossed the Milford Bridge, I realized that sometimes the best rides are the ones you do not plan. Just see where the road takes you!

What’s Playing: (What am I’m listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – The Police – Message in a Bottle

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MillBrook Village

Today was not an ideal day to ride a bike. It was hot, it was humid and it rained hard. I planned to go out at 7am with Eric, but, allergies kept me awake late, so I put it off for after work. I wanted to get a little climbing in today, so I thought a Walpack loop with an extra hill or two, would do the trick. I parked at Dingman Falls and rode out over the Dingman Bridge. Turning right on Old Mine Road for a Peter’s Valley climb, got my legs burning early on. I felt real good as I capped the hill and descended into and through the Peter’s Valley School of Craft. I winded my down the Walpack Road and hugged the right side of the road as traffic through this usually desolate area was heavier than usual. As I passed the Walpack Center and capped the next hill, I could see where all the cars were headed, The Walpack Inn. I should have realized it was dinner time.

Pedaling into the loop, I beared right and clawed my way up and over the only significant climb in the loop. From here on in, it was a roller coaster ride for about 6 more miles until I turned right on a small bridge over the Flatbrook Creek. Immediately, the chopped up, pot hole filled road goes skyward.

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Millbrook Village School House

I navigated around the pot holes as the hill never seemed to end. As I approached the top, it got dark and I could hear thinder from somewhere in the distance. I dropped down the other side and cruised into Millbrook Village, a rustic looking 19th Century hamlet that’s part of the  Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. As soon as I dismounted, the rains came (I was only able to snap off a couple of pictures as the rain fell hard). As hard as it rained, it felt good. I climbed back up and rode my brakes back down to the loop as I wanted to avoid slipping on the wet tarmac and rolling into one of the craters disguised as pot holes.

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Back on the loop, I pedaled past the Flatbrook Creek and back around towards the Delaware. As I came out of the loop and passed the Walpack Inn again, the rain stopped and the sun came out. The rain cooled things off a bit and the sun helped dry up my soaked jersey and shorts. I by-passed the Peter’s Valley hill and rode into Layton to tackle the much easier Tuttles Corner Road. The descent to the Dingmans Bridge is the highlight of that stretch of roadway. You can easily hit 40-45 MPH on the 1.5 mile drop.

I rolled into the Dingman Falls parking lot grateful to get a ride in but eager to back over to Millbrook to explore that area a little more.

What’s Playing: (What am I’m listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Toto – Hold the Line

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Back in the Saddle

It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve been able to get on a bike. Sometimes, life gets in the way and then you find your way back. This Sunday morning, I got out of bed and decided to just ride out of the garage, through my community and onto the gravel that is Five Mile Meadow Road. You see, what’s been keeping me away from my bike is still there and I was beginning to think that going for long bike rides was selfish and my way of running away from things. How wrong I was. This ride, through the beautiful state forest, helped me realize how grateful I am to be able to get away for a few hours and just pedal through the woods. I can still get back to reality, just with a renewed perspective.

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Anyway, I scooted up through my community and into the deer trail that leads to Five Mile Meadow Road. I turned right and immediately felt relaxed. I hung a left on Standing Stone Trail. It’s amazing how the weeds have grown through the middle of the road since my last ride there. The creek crossing was rideable today, although I stopped for a quick photo. I plowed through the loose gravel, as this wonderful 3 mile stretch is closed to vehicular traffic and the road surface does not get too packed down. Standing Stone takes you through the Pennsylvania Deer Management area that is fenced off for a few miles, along most of the road.

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Turning left on Silver Lake Road, I hit the pavement for about a mile and took a diversion through Little Mud Pond Road, a 1 mile horse shoe that puts you right back on Silver Lake Road. I then turned left back onto Five Mile Meadow. After a short climb, I made a right hand turn and dropped down Bald Hill Road. Bald Hill is a neat crushed gravel road that pretty much descends for 2.5 miles and comes to an end. An overgrown trail leads into private property. I have never explored here, as there are more than a few No Tresspassing signs. I turned around and headed back up to Five Mile Meadow, climbing through the dense woods.

Hunting cabins, complete with OutHouses and no running water, litter the landscape, through the Delaware State Forest. Some are run down and some look well taken care of. I ripped up Five Mile Meadow and slipped into the deer trail and back into my community. I rode towards the back of my community on gravel roads that are a little less forgiving. Large stones that just do not seem to penetrate the hard clay that make up the road surface. I found a clearing and another creek that seemed like a good spot for a drink and another photo.

 If your going to escape for a little while, there’s no better way than just hopping on your bike and pedaling into the woods at a relaxed pace. You really can just forget about the world for a change and enjoy the serenity. 

VBC Century Ride

This past weekend, Mike H, Steve and I, traveled up to Plattsburgh, NY to do a Century ride through the Adirondacks. A ride that is near and dear to my heart. This ride is put on by the Adirondack Garda. All proceeds are donated to the Tour de Force, a charity ride that raises money for the families of Police Officers killed in the line of duty, nationwide. I’ll detail the Tour de Force in a later post.

This is the 3rd annual Valcour Brewing Company Century Ride. It was previously called the Dry Dock 100. I rode in the 2014 event and I was extremely excited to be able to have a chance to be a part of it again. The inaugural ride was a 103 miles. A figure eight that started in Plattsburgh, came back into town at mile 50 for a fantastic lunch stop and looped out and back for another beautiful 50+ miles.

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The 2016 event featured 4 rides. 25, 50, 78 and 103 miles through the beautiful Adirondack Park and alongside Lake Champlain. Each ride featured perfect roads, absolutely stunning scenery, a quality lunch stop, well stocked rest areas and 2 awesome post ride parties. All riders, received an Adirondack Garda t-shirt, Valcour Brewing Company/VBC Century pint glass and some first rate swag. The gun went off at 8:30am for the 50/78/103 mile rides. The 25 miler, was an out and back, that started after lunch.

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For the 103 miler, it was a tale of two different types of weather. First, the rest stops were at miles 25, 50, 75 and 94. For the first 25 miles, there was a strong head wind. You sort of forgot about the wind as you came to the top of a hill and were hit with an incredible mountain top view. As you made the turn and looped back into Plattsburgh from the 1st rest stop to lunch, the wind changed directions and the road grade cooperated. That might have been the fastest 25 miles I have ever ridden.

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We were treated to a nice lunch on Lake Champlain. Darcy, Ann and a bunch of other volunteers, really did a wonderful job. From the sign in to the aid stations(which were top notch), everything was done to make sure the riders slipped through the course with ease. The Plattsburgh Police Department and the New York State Police did a fantastic job with the lead out and traffic control at the intersections.

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After lunch, about a mile in, you hit the only big hill on the course. It twists and turns as you climb for approximately 1.5 miles. You drop back down into farmland and fight the wind for another 20 or so miles. Along the way, we passed over 100 cyclist from Canada that were pedaling through one of the best cycling regions in the country. At mile 75 we rolled into the 3rd rest stop just off the border of Quebec on Lake Shore Drive. Across the lake, you could see Vermont. The wind turned to our backs again as we made our way into Plattsburgh along the lake.

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The last 2 miles are on a bike path, along Lake Champlain, that leads you right into the VBC parking lot and through the finishing chute. We were greeted with cheers and directed upstairs for the post ride party. Valcour had several different beers to choose from in a saloon that overlooked the lake. Down the hall, the Adirondack Garda provided a delicious recovery feast. We went back to our rooms to shower up and headed over to an undisclosed location for  a pool party, complete with margarita machine, beer, BBQ, hot tub and great people to sit around with, relax and reminisce about a great day.

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The following day, Bob and Bruce took any willing riders on a 50+ mile recovery ride up through the Lake Placid area, with a ferry ride across the lake to Vermont for lunch. We were sorry to miss this excursion as we opted to head home in the morning, but heard it was a good time!  Just a few more pics of this fantastic event:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adventure Loop(gravel, mud, grass & Pave)

With a break in the humidity for a day, a gravel grinder through the Delaware State Forest seemed like a good idea. I’ve written a few posts about different areas of the forest (Five Mile Meadow Road, Standing Tall Trail, Flat Ridge Road area, Whittaker Road and the High Knob Road, High Line Road area), but this time, the idea was to come up with a way to connect them and extend the ride.

I made plans to ride with Will and Kyle at 9am on Sunday. Will mapped out a route that would connect all of the aforementioned areas into a nice loop. I rode from home and met up with Will and Kyle at the Rt. 739 Parking area.

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We headed north on Rt. 739 and made a left on an undisclosed road. To connect the loop, we would have to pedal on a jeep trail and gravel road through private property for about 2.5 miles. Back on the pave, we made a left on Rt. 402 for about a half mile, then onto the High Knob Road. Electing not to climb up to the fire tower, we connected the High Knob Road (a relatively flat, hard packed gravel road) with High Line Road and descended for a few miles down to Hay Road and into the woods.

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The old jeep trail was overgrown. We pedaled through the area that was engulfed with the early spring forest fires. You could see some burnt trees on the ground, but the growth was overtaking the black ash. However, a few hunting cabins were not able to survive the fires. We crossed an old wooden plank foot bridge and continued on the trail.

Hay Road is closer to a backwoods trail then it is to a road. We came out of the woods and made a left hand turn on Snow Hill Road, a quiet country road that is roughly paved in sections and gravel in others. A left on Resica Falls Road put us back on pavement for  about a quarter mile, before hanging a right on Whittaker Road. After a mile of gravel, Whittaker turned into another jeep trail that was a little less over grown and a little less rocky, which made the descents a lot of fun.

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As we came out of the woods again, we rode around the back end of Minisink Lake and onto Flat Ridge Road. For 3.5 miles, the gravel on Flat Ridge is small and hard packed, which provides a really nice surface. Another left put us on Silver Lake Road for a mile and a right put us on Standing Tall Trail. This is a neat gravel road that winds through a deer management section that is fenced off on the left hand side of the road. After 2 miles, a creek comes right through the road. Kyle rode through as Will and I walked through, carrying our bikes. Another mile and our paths went different ways. Will and Kyle made a left on Five Mile Meadow Road for a 2 mile ride to the parking area and I headed in the other direction to a deer trail in the woods that leads to my community.

What a nice ride through a really quiet section. If you slow it down a little, there is plenty to see. Kyle rode up on a black bear on Whittaker Road (A little noise and it walked away). There are some quaint little cabins and plenty of places to camp. The loop was just about 45 miles with some good climbs (nothing too hard). This ride is doable on a cyclocross, mountain or hybrid bike. Though, it would be a little too tough for a road bike.

What’s Playing: (What am I’m listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Creedence Clearwater Revival – “Have you ever seen the rain”

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Sunrise Mountain

Thursday afternoon was what some would call a perfect day. 85 degrees and sunny with just a bit of wind. I could have cut the lawn and gotten started on a few weekend projects. Nah, it was way too nice out. This day had climbing written all over it. I got out of work on time at 4:30pm and drove to Dingmans Falls to meet Eric for a ride into New Jersey and up Sunrise Mountain.

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We rolled out at 5:00pm and headed over the Dingmans Bridge. Turning right on Old Mine Road, we climbed the Peter’s Valley hill and over into the small Artist commune. We hung a sharp left on Bevans Road and pedaled out to Layton and across to Rt. 560 and eventually veered right on Rt. 206, which is a dangerous road at best. Not a lot of shoulder and way too many cars. The roadway goes uphill for about 1.5 miles before leveling out. A left hand turn on Upper North Shore Road in Stokes State Forest, and a left at the fork on Sunrise Mountain Road.

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Sunrise Mountain Pavilion

Sunrise climbs for about 6 miles before coming to another fork in the road. You will want to stay right to get to the overlook. The grade steepens for 3/4 of a mile, but you are treated to a beautiful view of the Kittatinny Mountains. Rolling back down, you take a right at the fork on Crigger Road, where you now descend for a few miles before coming to a refreshing sight on the left hand side of the road. It’s a natural spring. The water is ice cold and tastes great. A perfect place to refill your bottles and maybe cool off a bit.

Continuing down Crigger Road, you go up and down and finally reach Deckertown Turnpike, where you turn left (you can turn right if you want to extend the ride over to High Point). Deckertown Turnpike is a road that goes up and down, but a fast descent will carry you up and over most of the hills. After a few miles, it drops down for a stretch until you make a left on New Road. A flat and fast section, New Road becomes Cemetary Road. Just before Rt.206, you turn left on Degroat Road and wind around a few farms before coming back to and making a right on Rt. 206. a Quick left on an unnamed road and another left on Layton Hainsville Road.

Another fast section, Layton Hainsville drops you back into Layton. A right hand turn at the Layton General Store on Rt. 560 and you climb just a little bit more, before descending down to the Dingmans Bridge and back across to Pennsylvania.

This was a beautiful ride, one that I would like to connect with High Point on another adventure and make it a day trip. With a lot of climbing, this is an intermediate to hard ride, but the reward is it’s beauty.

What’s Playing: (What am I’m listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – The late, great Harry Chapin – A Better Place to Be

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Stretching it Out

Summer is officially in full swing. That means the sun is shining and thoughts of long days in the saddle are here. Usually, 25-30 miles through the state forests, around the tri-state area and along the Delaware River, makes for a good enough ride, but Sunday presented an opportunity to stretch things out a bit.

Steve and I are getting ready for a long ride in upstate New York next month and Mike is preparing for a full Ironman Triathlon in October. So, we ventured out at 6:30am.

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For Mike, this was no ordinary training ride. This was his first ride in over a month after suffering a concussion, separated shoulder and various other injuries in a serious crash. With not being able to train for most of the month, Mike is determined to get back to his pre-crash form. With that in mind, we pedaled out of Action Bikes and Outdoor early enough to be almost completely void of traffic. We headed down to Matamoras via Rt. 209/Rt. 6 and made a left on Mountain Avenue.

Apparently enamored by the river today, we rode along Delaware Drive and over the Port Jervis Bridge, hanging an immediate left into West End, and rode along the New York side of the river. We came out on Rt. 97 (took a photo opportunity at the Conservatory) and rode through Port Jervis to River Road. We pace lined down River Road to work on our fitness and connected it to Old Mine Road at the Milford Bridge. Old Mine is full of potholes for the first 3 miles, so we took it easy until we reached the new pavement.

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We then picked up the pace a bit until we rolled over the Dingmans Bridge. Turning right on Rt. 209, we roller coastered over the last 8 miles back into Milford. Mike finished safely and reported no pain at the end of the ride. We were just honored to be a part of his recovery.

What’s Playing: (What am I’m listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today –Dire Straits – Walk of Life

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New York State of Mind

With Milford being located in the Tri-State area, rides in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York are all within reach. Some days, all 3 states are incorporated in local rides, like Sunday, when we rode through each state with a Point Peter climb. But Tuesday was all about New York. Western Orange County has many beautiful roads. The roadway is well paved, the homes are stately, and the scenery is second to none.

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I met up with Kyle at Action Bikes and Outdoor in Milford, and we pedaled down Rt.209/ Rt. 6 towards Matamoras. We veered left onto Mountain Avenue, hammered down to the Delaware River, and continued over the Port Jervis Bridge. Once in New York, we rode through the small river city, over to Port Jervis High School, and out onto Rt. 209 towards Middletown. This section of 209 is flat and fast. There is a narrow shoulder, but it’s enough to ride safely. As soon as you pass the horse farm on the right and Neversink Drive, go another mile and Peenpack Trail is on the left.

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Peenpack is a nicely paved road that snakes up and around some well groomed country homes. You climb up Peenpack for about 4 miles, before dropping down across Rt. 42 and back up to a left hand turn on Old Forestburg Road. You basically just fly down until you reach Rt. 42 again, and make a right, pedaling another half mile you hang a sharp right onto Wilson Road.

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Wilson immediately sends you back uphill, steeply at first but leveling out before capping the hill and flying down to Rt. 97. There, you make a right, and start the climb up to the Hawk’s Nest. Every 1/4 of a mile or so, there is a pull off that allows you some of the most breathtaking views of the Delaware River Valley. The road twists and turns for a few miles with a long descent back into Sparrowbush, NY. A right hand turn onto Sleepy Hollow Rd. puts you along the river and through Port Jervis’s West End neighborhood.

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We cruised over the Port Jervis Bridge and back into Matamoras, PA. While pedaling along the PA side of the river, I realized how lucky we are to be able to ride in so many cool places and over such diverse terrain. After left a onto Mountain Avenue, we cooled down as we rode back into Milford.

Although the elevation gain is not terribly high, this is a difficult ride as it requires extremely good bike handling skills. The downhill sections are steep, and wind around corners before coming to sudden stops. Use caution whenever riding on Rt. 97.  A blinking red taillight alerts drivers that your sharing the road.

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One last picture of the Delaware River

 

 

 

Father’s Day Ride

The last few days, I have been away, scouting out hotels and rest stops for a 4 day charity ride that I organize with my brother, a friend, and a dedicated volunteer staff. I’ll post some details as the event draws closer. For that reason, I have not been able to ride in 5 days, so I contacted Eric and we planned a morning Father’s Day ride, finishing up early enough to get home and spend some quality time with our families.

We really lucked out at 7am with blue skies and almost perfect weather. We met up at the parking area at Dingmans Falls, and headed out on Rt. 209 towards Milford. Eric did a long ride with a lot of climbing the previous day, so we decided that only 1 big hill would be appropriate for the day.

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We reached Milford, where we took 3rd Street, and hung a left onto George Street. Next, we made a right onto 4th Street, and followed it around and out to Rt. 209/ Rt. 6. Pedaling downhill towards Matamoras, the roads were empty. Every traffic light was green, and turning left on Mountain Avenue, we cruised toward the Delaware River and over the Port Jervis Bridge. Moving under the train trestle and up Pike Street, we made a left onto Rt, 97, over the first hill by the observatory, and turned right onto Skyline Drive. That’s where the climbing began. It’s 2.5 miles of switchbacks until the road summits, and then drops back down a little to Point Peter. As I’ve written in an earlier post, Point Peter offers panoramic views of Port Jervis, Matamoras, the Delaware River, and the High Point monument.

We did the Skyline Drive loop, and descended back into Port Jervis. Then we navigated through town, and headed over to River Road. Wanting to get back home, we rode in a mini paceline all the way to the Milford Bridge, and took Old Mine Road back to the Dingmans Bridge, passing a few cyclists and runners who were enjoying the beautiful morning.

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Crossing over the old wooden bridge, we pedaled our way back to Rt. 209, and cooled down on the Dingmans Falls Road to the welcome center. At 40+ miles and 1 climb, this is an intermediate ride with the reward at the halfway point.

What’s Playing: (What am I’m listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Bruce Hornby and the Range – The Show Goes On

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Overnight on the Bike

Yes, it finally happened: I got out on an overnight backpacking trip. Although I did not go it alone, as originally planned, it was an eye opening adventure that is sure to happen again. When I mentioned it to TC at Action Bikes and Outdoor, he was all over it. He planned a route that would have us pedal from Bushkill to Milford on the McDade Trail, with an overnight in Dingmans Ferry, alongside the Delaware River.

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Kyle and Will were recruited for the initial trip, and away we went. Kyle rode out from Milford to Bushkill, and met us at the Bushkill Access (boat launch). Ray and Meghan gave TC, Will, and myself a first class shuttle over to Bushkill.

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At 70 degrees and sunny, it was a beautiful evening to test out a fully loaded bike on loose gravel, and at 7pm, it left us ample time to ride 10 miles and setup camp. I was riding my Van Dessel WTF with my Revelate Designs seat pack and frame bag, and my Bushwhacker Cody handlebar bag. I bolted 1 Salsa Anything Cage to my fork to carry an unusually large steel bottle, and finally I wore a backpack, complete with a 70 ounce water blatter.

After 10 miles of pedaling, we reached our campsite. It was a nice clearing, with a cluster of trees, between the McDade Trail and Delaware River. As I pulled my tent and sleeping gear from my seat-bag, TC, Will, and Kyle set up their hammocks. Although experienced campers, they were each trying out a hammock for a full night in the woods for the first time. With our bedroom in the woods fully assembled, it was time to build a fire and cook dinner.

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After eating gourmet food by the fire, and laughing a little, TC made a bear bag, collected our extra food, and deposited it over a tree branch back in the woods. Returning to my tent, I made an attempt to light my candle lantern in complete darkness, to no avail. So, I crawled into my sleeping bag and called it a night. The temperature dropped to around 40-45 degrees, making for optimal sleeping weather. In the morning, I had little time to break down my tent and replace everything back in my bags and get to the office for a weekend work commitment.

Everything seemed to be working in my favor. After a great nights sleep, my gear slipped back on my bike without a problem. I met the guys by the fire, boiled some water, grinded some beans, and enjoyed my first real camp coffee.

I made my way up the trail to my car, only 4 miles away, and headed to work. Everyone else rode the full way back to Milford. As I pedaled back, I was already planning how to pack for the next trip. One things for sure: next time, I will be in no hurry in the morning, and the riding will be a little further.

What I did I learn? Bikes, tents, and coffee make a weekend adventure priceless!

 

 

 

 

 

After Work Spin

Finishing work on Wednesday at 4:30PM instead of 6:00pm, afforded me the opportunity to get the ride in that I’ve been wanting to do. I’ve been planning on a 40 miler with over 4,000 feet of climbing. I wanted to incorporate Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey. When I left work, I headed straight for Milford.

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I headed out of Action Bikes and Outdoor at 5:00pm under blue skys and temperatures in the mid 70’s with not much humidity, near perfect conditions  for a bike ride. I shot down Rt. 209 and Rt. 6 through Milford, Westfall Township and into Matamoras. Traffic was a little thick at this time, so I turned left on Mountain Avenue and avoided Matamoras Boro. I hit the river and turned right on Delaware Drive and then left over the Port Jervis Bridge and into New York. I went under the train trestle and buzzed through the river town, over the Neversink River and turned left on Rt.6 (also known as Slate Hill Road). Rt.6 climbs gradually for about 3 1/2 miles until it caps at the Greenville exit for Rt. 84.

IMG_3071Descending down about a 1/2 mile, I turned right on Mountain Road and then another mile, right on Greenville Turnpike. Greenville goes steeply up for about 1 1/2 miles, then drops down for 2 1/2 miles, just at about where the Rt. 6 climb began. A careful left on Rt. 23, brought me through the Montague, NJ traffic and up past Clove Road. Rt. 23 climbs for about 7 miles, but never really gets too steep. I followed it up to the High Point State Park entrance and hung a left into the park.

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From  there, it’s straight up to the monument. Short, steep climbs on narrow park roads with little to no traffic. I quickly turned around at the monument in an effort to get back to town before the sun went down. The descent is fast and furious, through the park and back down Rt. 23 for a 1/2 mile to a left hand turn on Saw Mill Road. Saw Mill is a road I’ve previously mentioned. The grade is a bit downhill from Rt. 23 and through it’s many twists and turns, it eventually makes it’s way over to Deckertown Turnpike after about 4 miles.IMG_3096

A right on Deckertown and I’m ready to pedal up and down the many little hills that make up this roller coaster stretch of road that leads all the way back to the Milford Bridge. After a half mile on Deckertown, I got up out of the saddle for a push up the hill and pop, my chain breaks. This should normally not be a problem, because I usually have a spare link in my seat pack. Today, I decided to carry a new tool and tube in my back pocket and took my seat pack off the bike, forgetting about the chain link, and as luck would have it, well…………..So, as I walked my bike up the hills and glided down, I called around and thanks to TC of Action Bikes and Outdoor, who dispatched his lovely and pregnant wife Meghan(who was on her way home from work) over to pick me up. I was so grateful as the mosquitoes were eating me alive. A lesson learned in preparedness and for all of the activity trackers, I certainly got my steps in for that day.

What’s Playing: (What am I’m listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today –Counting Crows – Rain Kingaugust-and-everything-after-4dcfda1791f21

 

 

Memorial Day Rides

Humidity, Humidity! Memorial Day weekend was hot and sticky! Not exactly ideal weather to ride, but I would rather ride than complain about the weather. The sun was out for most of the weekend, so regardless of the humidity, a lot of people were outdoors to kickoff the summer season.

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I led 2 of the 5 rides that went out this weekend. Both were hot and humid, but a few brave souls pedaled on. Dave’s trail ride had great attendance, as did Becky’s beginner road ride on Sunday. Kyle’s MTB ride in Port Jervis went off without a hitch.

All and all, it was a great weekend of events at Action Bikes and Outdoor.TC Crawford, the owner of the shop, really kicked things up a notch this year. The band, Fantasia Project was fantastic and played to enthusiastic fans all day long. The drive in movie, (The Great Outdoors) under the stars was awesome and also well attended.

Here are a few photos from the weekend:

 

Hopefully, the next ride I post will be the overnight bike packing trip. As long as the rain holds out, one night this week could prove to be my night in the great outdoors!

 

Group Rides

It’s that time of year. Action Bikes and Outdoor are starting their group rides for the summer season. Officially kicking off this holiday weekend, with their Memorial Day sale and many events:

A 25 mile road ride will depart the shop at 5pm tonight. It will be at a moderate pace (14-16 MPH). No one gets left behind!

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Tomorrow morning, another road ride will depart the shop at 11am. This time, 35 miles, but also at a moderate pace. No one gets left behind!

Tomorrow at 12pm (noon), the shop will be giving a flat tire clinic. Don’t get left out on the road waiting for a ride, because you can’t fix your own flat. This 45 minute clinic will give you the skills and know how to get rolling again.

Tomorrow at 1pm, an 8 mile trail ride will leave the shop and roll through Milford and onto the Mcdade trail and back. All abilities are welcome. No one gets left behind!

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Tomorrow 2-6pm, it’s music time – Fantasia Project will be playing on the patio at Action Bikes and Outdoor.

Tomorrow night, Action Bikes and Outdoor will have a Drive In Movie at sunset. They have secured a radio station for audio and will be showing “The Great Outdoors” (rated PG).

Sunday at 10am – The Frisky Goat Coffeehouse is sponsoring a beginner road ride. This ride will be led by Becky! It will be 12 miles long. All riders and all bikes are welcome. This is the perfect ride to get started this season or try out that new bike! No one gets left behind!

Sunday, also at 10am – There will be a Port Jervis Mountain Bike Ride. Come  check out what all the excitement is about.  If you are a mountain bike rider, you must attend this ride! Meeting at the end of Reservoir Avenue in Port Jervis at 10am. The address is 71 Reservoir Ave. Port Jervis, NY 12771. Once you arrive, bear left on the dirt road for a 1/4 mile. Park in the small parking area on the right hand side.

No excuses, get out and ride!

 

Bashakill Vinyards – Almost

Sunday was the day, the day we were to ride to the Bashakill Vinyards. We almost made it. Well, there was an incident or should I say, an accident. The ride did start out fairly well. At 31 miles in, things went sour quickly.

First, let me say that we had near perfect weather. 60 degrees and cloudy. Eric, Steve, Deb, TC and myself,  headed out of Action Bikes and Outdoor in the heart of Milford, at just after 10am. We cruised at a moderate pace through Milford Borough, down past the Metz Ice House and over the Milford/Montague Bridge.

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We turned right onto Old Mine Road and rolled through the trafficless, quiet landscape for just about 7 miles. Reaching Dingmans Turnpike, we hung a left and rode up Tuttles Corner Hill. After climbing over to Layton, NJ, we turned left onto Layton Hainsville Road and zipped through the farms and quaint homes to Degroat and across Rt. 206 to Cemetary Road. Cemetary Road becomes New Road and winds through a residental neighborhoood while we save for the impending climb.

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A right on Deckertown Turnpike and we begin climbing. As soon as you turn, the grade of the road immediately steepens. Up we went for 4 miles until descending sharply to Saw Mill Road. A left and we are pedaling through High point State Park. Saw Mill is a cool roller coaster road that swoops you up and down for 4 miles to the end at Rt. 23. After a left hand turn, we bombed down Rt. 23 for a few miles and into Montague, NJ.  That’s where things went awry.

As we rolled straight through the commercial area of Montague, NJ, where traffic for Rt. 84 was backed up about a half mile, a car made a left, right in front of Deb, causing her to crash into the side of it.

Deb showed incredible bike handling skills to stay upright. She simply ran out of road, before colliding with the vehicle. The NYS State Police, NJ State Police, Montague Fire Department and Blue Ridge Ambulance company all responded to the scene. After a short ride to the hospital and a battery of tests, Deb is home recovering.

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Our ride ended at the accident scene and although we did make it to the winery, we missed Deb and Eric and do not consider the ride complete. A 2nd Bashakill ride is planned for early August and we hope Deb will be fully recovered and ready to ride!

 

Coffee, Rain & Poison Ivy

On a rather chilly Sunday morning, I met up with Steve and Eric at Dingmans Falls for a 7am ride up and down the Delaware River. We parked right on Rt. 209 at the base of the falls, just passed Rt. 739. From the falls, we headed out north on Rt.209 through the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.

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Dingman Falls

For eight and a half miles, we roller coastered up Rt. 209, past Adams Creek and the Zimmerman Farm. For most of the way, we rode alongside the McDade Trail, just up the hill from the river. We pulled into Milford and hit the Frisky Goat Coffee House (where we should have started) for a chance to warm up, sip a delicious cup of java and take a bathroom brake away from one of Mother Nature’s annoying phenomenoms (more on this later).

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We left town and shot down Rt.209/Rt. 6, a fast, slightly downhill stretch that takes you from Milford, through the box store littered Westfall Township and Matamoras, with little to no traffic at this hour. Over the Bridge, we dropped under the trestle and navigated the city of Port Jervis, NY until we rode over the Neversink River and turned right on River Road and pedaled up past Silver Canoes and up the first hill. River Road has a few short hills but is relatively flat.  About 4 miles in, we noticed an abandoned house in the woods. This seemed like a good time for a photo.

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What I didn’t know was that I leaned my bike, right in the middle of what appeared to be a load of poison ivy. Eric and Steve both pointed out that the recent rain, probably brought about a good share of the dreaded plant. I really had no idea how to spot poison ivy. So, I did a little research to hopefully keep you and me clear of it.

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Poison Ivy

You’ll notice three pointed leaves that change colors with the seasons:

Reddish in the spring, Green in the summer, Yellow, orange, or red in the fall. On some plants, the leaves have notched edges. On others, the leaves’ edges are smooth. Poison ivy can grow as a bush or vine. You may see the vines climbing up the sides of trees or buildings(Look to the left of my bike, growing up the tree). The plants sometimes have white berries, which help it spread. Birds eat the berries and transplant the seeds on new areas along with their droppings. This may be why poison ivy is so common. Steer clear of this and spend less time itching and more time riding!

From River Road, we turned right on Old Mine Road for a quiet 7 mile roll through the woods, when it started raining. I thought great, no yard work today, but by time we hit the Dingmans Bridge and got back to our cars, the rain stopped and the sun was shining.

With about 32 miles and little to no climbing, this is an intermediate ride that can be done on just about any type of bike.

What’s Playing: (What am I’m listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – ELO – Mr. Blue Sky

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Morning Gravel AM

After a couple of beautiful days, the rain is headed back. While doing some early morning road rides this week, Eric thought we should get a gravel ride in this morning before Mother Nature exercised her right to spring. With only 2 hours before I had to be at work, we settled on Five Mile Meadow Road and the surrounding trails. As I’ve previously stated, Five Mile Meadow Road, which connects Rt. 739 and Silver Lake Road, is hard packed gravel for about 6.4 miles. We started out on Five Mile, and found our way onto Standing Tall Trail, a snow mobile trail deep in the Delaware State Forest.

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I didn’t have to ride through, but it was fun!

There is a creek crossing about a mile into the trail, that’s maybe crossable at best. The trail is lined with wire fencing in conjunction with Pennsylvania’s Deer Management Program. Ending at Silver Lake Road, we turned left, followed the broken pavement for a mile, and did the Little Mud Pond gravel horseshoe. Little Mud Pond is a gravel road that’s a little more than a mile through a beautiful lake community that reminds you of an old fishing village.

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Once out on Silver Lake road again, we pedaled down and hung a left back onto Five Mile Meadow. We went up the first hill, and right onto Bald Hill Road. Bald Hill is a well groomed combination of smooth crushed gravel and dirt. Hunting cabins litter both sides of the road for 2 1/2 miles until it comes to an abrupt end in a dirt circle. Private Property separates Bald Hill from the back of the Dingman Delaware School campus.

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We zipped back up Bald Hill, right on Five Mile Meadow, and grinded our way back to the deer trail that takes us back around to my house. We were both very content to get a ride in this morning as the rain started to come down, just as we exited the woods. A quick shower and off to work, daydreaming about where to ride this weekend.

What’s Playing: (What am I’m listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Joe Cocker – When the Night Comes

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Bashakill Ride – Update

Just a reminder:

The Bashakill Vinyards and Winery ride is still on for Sunday, May 22nd. The time has been changed to 10:00am. We will Depart Action Bikes and Outdoor at 611 Broad St. Milford, PA 18337 and ride a scenic route through Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York, a total of 50 miles, at a moderate pace.

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Example of how to properly ride in a group

Transportation back to the start will be provided. There are a limited number of spots for bikes going back, so please call the shop and confirm that you are riding. There is no cost for the ride, however, Bashakill’s wine tasting is $4 if they have more than 4 wines available to taste. You do get a cool souvenir wine glass with your tasting. There will be food available for purchase at the winery or your welcome to bring your own.

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Local musician, Keith Newman will be playing from 2-6pm.

Keith Newman has been playing the Catskills rock circuit since his teenage years, as part of various bands and in collaboration with other local musicians. As a solo vocalist who accompanies himself on six and twelve string guitar and harmonica, he continues to play a wide variety of acoustic music. His repertoire includes covers by artists including the Beatles, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Grateful Dead, Simon & Garfunkel, Jackson Brown, Neil Young, Cat Stevens, Pink Floyd, The Eagles and more.

Hope to see you there!

 

24 Hour Solo Bikepacking Trip: part 1

I’ve recently been bitten by the backpacking/bike camping bug. First, I would like to get out, and do a solo 24 hour bike camping trip. I’m thinking that this would be a good reset after a stressful week. Also, flying solo would be a great way to find my strengths and weaknesses on the trail and in the woods. I plan on preparing for as much as possible and packing whatever I think I will need, then adjusting my packing for later trips accordingly.

Living in the Milford area gives me more than a few options. Since I do not intend on making a campfire, my choice of campsites are many. I’ll just pick an area, do a recon ride to scout out a camp site, and map out the route later at home. Now, what to bring?

Fly Creek UL 2 Tent

 

A list of what to Pack:

Cooking Equipment/Food: Alcohol stove, denatured alcohol, matches, kettle, fork, folding knife, spoon, stainless steel cup, coffee filter, and pour over bracket. As this is only a 1 night trip, I will try to get by with some homemade soup, energy bars, water, coffee, and a PB&J

Clothes/Shoes: 1 set of bib shorts and jersey, 2 pairs of socks, 1 sweatshirt and long tights, gloves, beanie, t-shirt, extra pair of underwear, sneakers, riding shoes, helmet, and sunglasses

Tools: Multi tool, tire lever, mini pump, 2 tubes, patch kit, camera, cell phone

Shelter/Sleeping: 2 man tent, footprint, sleeping bag, inflatable sleeping pad, inflatable pillow, candle lantern

First Aid: Rollup first aid kit, sunscreen, bug spray

I’ll probably ride my Van Dessel WTF. It’s a steel bike that should hold everything fairly well. I will probably pack everything in my Revelate Designs Viscacha seat bag, my Revelate Tangle frame bag, and my Bushwhacker Cody handlebar bag. I’ll carry 2 large water bottles and a 70oz blatter in a backpack.

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Riding directly out of my house and into the Delaware State Forest would be ideal for my 1st solo. However, I think the best way to get it in is to just get it in.

Part 2 will be my assessment of the trip. I’ll post some photos, thoughts, and details. Until then, get outside, ride your bike, paddle your kyack, and read my blog!

 

 

A New Discovery – Maybe not that New

Finally, a semi dry day. This morning, the weather forecast called for 42 degrees and cloudy skies, but no rain! After near drought conditions and 3 forest fires nearby, the rain was certainly welcomed, but not 8 straight days of it. Well, with a temporary break in the pattern, an early morning ride was beckoning.

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I hooked up with Eric, and departed Action Bikes and Outdoor at 7:30am. It was a little chilly, but some climbing early on would heat things up a bit. We crossed the Milford Bridge, and darted up Deckertown Turnpike. It was immediately apparent that the past weeks rain turned the brown, dreary landscape into the green, mountainous beauty that makes the tri-state area so desirable. We turned right on New Road before Deckertown really got steep. New Road is slightly downhill for 3 miles. Just before we would have crossed over Rt. 206, we hung a left on Degroat Road for what turned out to be a cool detour.

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We came upon Luna Parc, an artistic wonderland, hidden in the woods. Luna Parc is the home of madcap artist Ricky Boscarino. His largest work in progress is his home and the atelier Luna Parc, which began in 1989. While not open to the public, 3 day open house tours are known to occour.

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Luna Parc

Just up the road, we made a right on Meyers Road. For another mile and a half, we cruised through a quiet, serene setting, before coming to Rt. 206. Turning right, we made 2 quick lefts, and dropped onto Layton Hainsville Road. Making our way into Layton, we passed a few runners and walkers, probably itching to get outside. Another right hander, and we went right through Layton and onto Bevans Road.

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We snaked our way to Peter’s Valley, and took respite at the Peter’s Valley store and gallery. IMG_2888

Up the famed Peter’s Valley climb, we plateaued, and descended down across Rt. 560 and onto Old Mine Road. Apparently, it’s turkey season for the local hunters, as cars were parked all along the roadway. Although pot holed for the last 3 miles, Old Mine Road is fast, and dumps you right at the base of the aforementioned Milford Bridge. Once across, we dropped down passed the Metz Ice house and back up into Milford for a recovery spin back to the shop.

What’s Playing: (What am I’m listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – The Psychedelic Furs – Pretty in Pink (I don’t know why, but probably because of Luna Parc)

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Rain, Rain go away!

No riding today, it’s raining again. I’m not up for another rain ride. Thursday afternoon, I rode from Dingmans Falls to Bushkill on the McDade Trail. I was not totally prepared for the rain and got soaked. Although wet, it was very meditative as I did not see a soul on the trail. I think my 50 year old body is still drying out.

Green woods on a rainy day

I’m not complaining, as we need the water. With a milder than normal winter, and not much rain so far in the early spring, multipe day forest fires have been popping up all over the Poconos and Catskills. So, with an end to the fires, the below photo is how I’m feeling right now!

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Gene Kelly making the most of the rain!

A quick check of the weather and it’s supposed to rain for the next few days. Ok, enough! Tuesday morning road ride from Action Bikes and Outdoor in Milford 7am, rain or shine.

 

Sullivan County – Beautiful

There ‘s no other way to describe Sunday’s weather, except stunning, simply stunning! A bright sunny day with flawless blue skies, moderate wind and 52 degrees. An absolute perfect day for a bike ride. Because it was so nice, I had to make sure to get some yard work in as these beautiful spring, weekend days are at a premium. That being said, I woke up extremely early and cleaned out the shed, put out the patio furniture and began my spring assault on the lawn.

Earlier in the week, I pre planned a Sunday ride with a couple of friends. So, I kissed my understanding and awesome wife goodbye and headed out to meet Eric H. and Debbie at Hupka’s Auto Body in Matamoras, PA, just outside Milford.

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We rode out of the auto body shop and onto Mountain Avenue, right on Delaware drive and over the Port Jervis Bridge. A left on Water Street to River Road to Ferry Street and a left on West Main Street. We followed West Main out of the West End neighborhood, across Rt. 97 and onto Rt. 42, passing through Sparrowbush, NY. We followed Rt. 42 for about 11 miles up to Forestburgh Road. Rt. 42 , a well paved road with a five foot shoulder, climbs the whole way. By the time we made the left on Forestburgh Road, we amassed over 1,400 feet of elevation with little respite.

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Forestburgh Road dropped us down to the scenic Mongaup Falls Reservoir, a contributory to the Delaware River, and back up a ridiculously steep hill. Compared to the Poconos, the Catskill Mountains are just that, mountainess. A few more miles and a bit more climbing and the road comes to a split. We veered right onto Leers Road and descended until the road ended. A right on Mohican Lake Road for some more climbing through the town of Highland Lake.

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Mohican Lake Road becomes Highland Lake Road and descends down to the small, quiet town of Eldred, NY. Since, Eldred is our turn around point of sorts, we decided take a lunch break at Peck’s Market (they have a nice covered patio with a pic nic table). This seemed like a great time to tell Eric and Deb that although they said this was their first ride of the year, both of them were riding extremely well. Their winter workouts and diet certainly paid off.

Pedaling out of Eldred, we ascended a very steep Proctor Road (I should have had a lighter lunch before a climb like that). Once we reached the top, we rode the ups and downs for about 8 miles to the Upper Mongaup Road, which rolls for a few more miles where we hung a left on Knight Rd, dropped sharply down and made a left on Rio Dam Road. Rio Dam Road is a twisty ascent before dropping you right onto the Rio Dam, a massive structure that sends water to New York City and electricity to surrounding towns.

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A Photo Op on the Rio Dam. We were really excited to be there!

As soon as we rolled off the dam, we immediately climbed another monster incline. Pedal stroke by pedal stroke, we grinded up the hill, until we summited and turned right on Rt. 42. The climbing was finished for the day, but the thrill was about to begin as we plummeted back down Rt. 42 for about 7 miles. We turned left on Berme Road and rode back through the small, hauntingly desolate town of Sparrowbush.

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Although renovated, one of many vacant shops in Sparrowbush, NY
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Riverside Creamery

Heading out of town, we made a left on Rt. 97 and slithered through the west end of Port Jervis. Just before the bridge, we stopped at the Riverside Creamery for an ice cream cone. The Creamery is located on Water St., right on the Delaware River. An absolute oasis, great food and fantastic ice cream. We crossed the bridge and pedaled along the river, back up Avenue C and onto Mountain Avenue for a short sprint to Hupka’s Auto Body.

I’m not sure what was better, the ride or the incredible weather, maybe both! If you want to challenge yourself, this ride is well worth it. 50+ miles and 4,790 feet of climbing make this ride one of the more rewarding adventures on 2 wheels.

What’s Playing: (What am I’m listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Prince – Purple Rain

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Review: Cannondale CAAD 12

Eric reviews the Cannondale CAAD 12:

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What to do when the N+1 urge strikes, where N= the number of bikes currently owned.  I don’t just jump in to what I consider a big ticket item until I’m tired of looking through multiple websites, physical examples and talking to people for their opinion.  It was time, time to upgrade my entry-level road bike to something more fitting of the style of riding I’ve grown to love.  My first road bike took me places far and wide; physically, geographically and on several other areas that needed exploring. I really enjoyed that bike, but more so I wanted to go faster, farther and hang with a group of riders I normally only see from a distance, as I tried to hang on to a wheel during the group rides.  That’s what started the process.

I spoke with TC at Action Bikes and Outdoors about the brands they represent in the shop and I also looked at a half dozen other brands that seem to capture what I was after.  TC was in no hurry to put me on a bike that he just wanted to sell, rather he wanted to be sure he understood what I was after, price point, group set upgrade, more aggressive frame posture, a lighter bike, a stiffer and more responsive ride.

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It was time. So after a few days of website scrutiny, reading gear reviews online and in magazines and talking to a few riders I set my sights on the Cannondale CAAD 12, outfitted with Shimano’s proven 105 group set.  The CAAD 12 comes in 7 possible models from the 105 gruppo, up to their top shelf offering the CAAD 12 Black Inc. A few models come fitted with disc brakes, all are made of Cannondale’s superior aluminum tubes , SmartFormed 6069 Alloy, SPEED SAVE, BB30, Di2 Ready with a Speed Save BallisTec full carbon fork collared by a tapered head tube all set in a race geometry that isn’t a torture rack.

 

The 105 gruppo is at the bottom of the model range but don’t be fooled.  This bike jumps when asked, the BB30 bottom bracket translates a great deal of pedaling effort into forward motion, the frame design, from years of testing and real life application is far more than you would expect.  The 105’s shifting is crisp, dependable and encourages the rider to push faster and further. Cannondale delivers a great package with some finer touches such as Mavic’s Aksium complete wheel set.  The gearing comes in 52/36 up front and an 11 speed 11-28 cassette in an attempt to satisfy a wide audience of riders who want to climb and ride in a pace line. Internal cabling is standard on all CAAD 12 models and ticked off one of the boxes near the top of my demands.  Lastly the color, I have a CAAD X, the cyclocross model in Cannondale’s black and white paint scheme so I was hoping for an option to the primer grey and they delivered.  Team Color has a glossy, slightly metallic black as the base color with a metallic grey on the down tube, seat stays and the underside of the top tube.  Cannondale’s pro peloton racing team’s signature green covers the fork and seat tube along with some branding graphics.

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Lastly, the saddle, a Selle Royal won’t be seen in the professional ranks but I can tell you it’s not a leather clad brick or a couch cushion.  It’s light, flexes and doesn’t seem to need a break in period.

After talking it all over with TC, who seemed ready to ride along with me on the maiden voyage, the bike arrived less than a week later and during that time a few notable publications named this particular CAAD 12 105 the 2016 Bike of the Year. Now I feel pretty smart riding this bike around and look forward to years of enjoyment and keeping up during the group rides.

 

I Love New York-Point Peter

A few mornings ago, I was driving on Rt. 84, and got off on the Port Jervis exit. I noticed the I Love New York circular heliport looking artwork in the grass on the side of the highway. As I have passed this a bunch of times, I’ve often remembered the I Love New York TV commercials from the 1970’s. This got me thinking (I know that’s dangerous).

After my appointment, I would drive back to Milford, get on my bike, ride through Montague, NJ, onto the highway, and take a picture with my bike, on the I Love NY sign. As luck would have it, Eric called, wanting to ride. So we met at Action Bikes and Outdoor, and off we went.IMG_2753

We left the shop, traversed Milford, and made our way over the Milford Bridge. We rode up Deckertown Turnpike, made a left onto New Road, and rode over to Clove Road. Turning right on Clove, we roller coastered for about 4.5 miles to Montague, and hung a left on Rt. 23. A mile down the road, we rode on the exit ramp against traffic to get up to the highway. After taking a few photos, I realized that this was a remarkably stupid idea. Not very well thought out. Will never do it again!

From there, we pedaled through the city of Port Jervis and up Rt. 97, made a right on Skyline Drive, and began the climb up to Point Peter. Skyline Drive is a steep climb for about 2.5 miles. Switchback after switchback, we kept ascending until we capped the mountain, and rode back down the other side for about a half mile to Point Peter.

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The Port Jervis Bridge from Point Peter

Point Peter offers incredible panoramic views of Port Jervis, Matamoras, the Delaware River, and the High Point monument in New Jersey. After a few photos, we carefully slipped back down Skyline Drive. If you ever want to feel like the road was built especially for you, ride down Skyline Drive sometime. You’ll want to to ride back up just to descend it again!

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American & P.O.W. Flags atop Point Peter

Hang a right on Rt. 97, a mile later  make a sharp left on Sleepy Hollow Road for a recovery spin along the river and through the west end of Port Jervis. A right on Ferry Street and a quick left on River Road, along the Port Jervis Fitness Path, and back on the the Bridge. Once back in Pennsylvania, we hung a right off the bridge onto Delaware Drive, for a spin on the other side of the river.

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Eric hammers on the the fitness path

A left on Avenue C and over to Mountain Avenue, to avoid Matamoras, and a right hand turn on Rt. 209/Rt. 6. Navigating a busy shopping district, we slid through and made our way back to Milford. Although the ride began very recklessly, the ride up and down Point Peter and the ride through west end made for a fantastic ride on a beautiful day!

What’s Playing: (What am I’m listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today –Harry Chapin – Greatest Stories Live71jJCu8fbZL._SX425_

Bashakill Vinyards and Winery Ride

On Sunday, May 22, 2016, we will be riding from Action Bikes and Outdoor in Milford to the Bashakill Vinyards and Winery in Wurtsboro, NY. We will leave the shop at 9:00am. The route will be about 50 miles. Transportation back to Milford will be provided (spouses and friends are welcome to meet us there to help with transports). Please call the shop ahead of time or leave a comment here if you intend on riding with us, so we can have enough transportation.

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Open Sundays too!

Bashakill is an organic winery that produces about 1200 cases a year. The tasting room is a rustic room attached to the side of the garage. There is no charge to taste four of their wines. If they have more than 4 wines available there is a $4 tasting fee, which includes a souvenir glass. They sell by the glass or you can buy a bottle and share it amongst friends. Feel free to bring your own cheese and crackers or a lunch where you can eat on the outside seating area. glass_closeup_web

The have live music on Saturdays and Sundays. They haven’t posted who’s playing on May 22 yet, but they usually have first class entertainment.

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In 2011, they built the BashaKill Wine Cave! They cut into the mountain and poured a 67-yard concrete cave, which is 40 feet deep and 16 feet wide. Being under ground creates a constant temperature with high humidity. This provides the perfect environment for aging their red wines. They usually give tours of the cave periodically during the day.

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Bashakill Vinyards Wine Cave

So come enjoy a challenging ride with us from Milford to Wurtsboro. It is a no drop ride, so everyone will arrive together. We will pedal through the beautiful tri state area, chow on homemade food, listen to good music and taste some of the finest wines in the Catskills.

 

 

 

Review: Kona Rove Ti

In an attempt to add more content, I’ve decided to do a few reviews. Not to bore you, but to get you and me excited about cycling again as the spring unfolds and summer quickly approaches.

During the winter, I picked up a 2016 Kona Rove Ti Frame. Kona sells the Rove, which is their do all cross and gravel bike, in Aluminum, Steel and Titanium. At this time, the Ti Rove is only available as a frame. With that in mind, I conferred with TC at Action Bikes and Outdoor as to how to properly spec this bike for some on road/off road adventures.

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First, the frame (3AL/2.5V titanium) is made in Tennessee by Lynskey, one of the premiere builders of titanium bikes. I decided to pair it with a Kona Project 2 carbon fork, allowing the frame and fork to take up to a 50mm tire for a super plush ride over the rough stuff. Next, I wanted to use road bike gearing as I will be doing a lot of mixed bag type of rides that will take me on and off road. Specs are as follows: Sram Force carbon crankset, Sram GXP bottom bracket, Sram Rival shifters, Sram Rival derailleurs, Sram 1170 11X32 cassette, Bontrager Affinity Elite tubeless ready disc wheelset, Thomson Elite seatpost and stem, Chris King headset, Shimano mechanical disc brakes, Arundel stainless cages, Shimano Pro saddle and a Salsa Cowchipper handlebar and WTB Nano 40mm tires round it all out.IMG_2605

After about 300 miles of winter and spring riding through gravel, singletrack, grass, pavement, dirt and mud, I can honestly say that the Rove has performed flawlessly. At just about 20lbs with pedals, it flies out of corners and is light enough to climb any hill(especially with the 11-32 cassette). With the Cowchipper bars and tubeless tire setup, it’s as stable as any bike I’ve ridden. And least I say, the ride quality of Ti is incredible!The Kona Rove Ti is the kind of bike you fall in love with for its beauty and ride quality then forge a life-long bond with after epic adventures.IMG_2606

2 Rides, Lot’s of Fun & Adventure

Now that the weather seems to have turned for the better, it’s time to hit the road and get some quality miles in. With temperatures in the 70’s and 80’s this weekend, I had to find time to put tires on blacktop.

Riding out of town is always pretty this time of year. Before the trees become green, an array of flowers are in bloom and many store fronts and homes display just enough to get you really excited for the spring and summer seasons.

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A few sights from Milford including the old Milford Theater(home of the Black Bear Film Festival) and the Dimmick Inn

I rode with John on Sunday from Layton Hainesville Road on the New Jersey side. After an easy spin at conversational pace, we traveled through Layton and over to Peter’s Valley. We hung a left on the Walpack Road and went past the Walpack Inn and around the Walpack loop. The loop is about 12 miles. A roller coaster type road that winds you in and around the National Forest, providing scenic views of the Flatbrook Creek.

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John hammering it over the Walpack Loop on his new Trek Emonda

We re-traced the route back to Layton Hainsville Road and back to Milford. On the way back, a black pickup truck with what appeared to be an intoxicated driver, decided it was not willing to share the road. After a few swerves and short stops, the driver sped away and probably figured that it was better to get back to the bar.

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All and all, a really nice ride on what turned out to be the warmest day of the year, so far. It felt good to finally ride in shorts and short sleeves.

Today, I rode with TC and Eric from Action Bikes and Outdoor. We left the shop at about 7:30am on a crisp, slightly windy April morning. The sun was shining and the birds were chirping. You couldn’t ask for more. After a slow cruise through Milford’s side streets, we dropped down past the Metz Icehouse and up to Rt. 209 and over the Milford Bridge.

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Metz Icehouse

We climbed up Deckertown Turnpike, across Rt. 206 and made a right on New Road. We followed New Road into Cemetery Road and crossed over Rt. 206 again and made a left on Layton Hainesville Road. Riding with TC and Eric, I knew the pace would be fast. I grabbed onto a wheel and hung on through Layton and chased them over to Peter’s Valley, a scenic artists colony that’s home to a popular climb among local cyclist.

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Pedaling up the back of Old Mine Road(the Peter’s Valley Climb), I took up my usual position behind TC and Eric, spinning at a brisk pace up the steep 1st few hundred feet. As the hill crests, the grade becomes much more manageable. It’s one of those climbs that you have to really push up the 1st part, to enjoy an easy spin for the rest of the hill. Coming over the top, you shoot straight down hill for a little over a mile and cross over Rt. 560.

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Old Mine Road is a quiet country road that spans from the Dingmans Bridge to the Milford Bridge on the New Jersey side of the Delaware River. On nice days, you will see scores of cyclists and runners enjoying the serene surroundings. A quick trip back over the Milford bridge and into Milford for some well deserved coffee. Quick tip. Get out early if you can, before the weather has a chance to turn on you.

What’s Playing: (What am I’m listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Creedence Clearwater Revival – Have You Ever Seen the Rain.

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Greenville Turnpike & 3 States

Everything you wanted to know about the wind but were afraid to ask. Yeah, it was windy today! Did I say it was windy? It was windy!

Having an opportunity to get out and squeeze a ride in on what appeared to be a beautifully sunny day, I met up with Steve at Action Bikes and Outdoor in the heart of Milford. On a whim, we decided on a ride around the Delaware Valley and a climb up Greenville Turnpike.

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Port Jervis/Matamoras Bridge

Leaving the shop, we headed east on Rt. 209/Rt 6. Although flat and fast, we had to deal with a lot of evening traffic, oh and did I say, wind? Just as we crossed Rt. 84, we turned left onto Mountain Avenue to avoid busy Matamoras. Turning right on Delaware Drive, we approached the Port Jervis/Matamoras Bridge and I couldn’t help but think that as we ride through this area on a daily basis, it’s real easy to take for granted the scenery that is all around us. A perfect example was the ride over the bridge and the view of the incredibly serene Delaware River.

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Pushing through the wind, we made our way through the streets of the old, up and coming small city of Port Jervis, NY. (The once rundown, river city is making a comeback with scores of new businesses and great restaurants). Going under the overpass and up Pike Street, we made a right on E. Main Street and pedaled over the Neversink River Bridge and into Montague, NJ.

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We hung a left on Greenville Turnpike, got out of traffic, back into New York and started to climb. At a little over 3 miles, Greenville Turnpike starts out a mere gradual uphill for the 1st 1.25 miles. As it bears right, the road inclines sharply and continues to climb for about 2 more miles, passing some hillside homes and a parking area for the trailhead to the Shawangunk Trail in the Huckleberry Ridge State Forest, before dropping back down to where we made a left on Old Mountain Road. Old Mountain Road is carved into the side of the mountain, providing a road surface that is smooth but slanted down to the low side.

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Old Mountain Road drops down to a sudden stop at Rt. 6 in Greenville in front of the Firehouse Deli. A steep, half mile climb awaits as we turn left on Rt. 6. For some reason, the climb seems fast(just one of those roads that feels like your going faster than you should). As we capped the summit, I zipped up and pulled my gloves on and prepared for the long, descent. Did I say it was windy? It felt like the wind was actually pushing us back uphill. Rt. 6 drops through Deerpark, NY for 3.5 miles to the border of Montague and Port Jervis. Pedaling back through Port Jervis, E. Main Street eventually rolls right into Rt. 97. We climbed up to the Main Street overlook and were treated to an excellent view of the city.

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Descending Rt. 97 to Sleepy Hollow Road, we winded through the quiet West End Neighborhood of Port Jervis and back to the bridge and across to Matamoras. As we traveled through Matamoras and into Milford, we were hit hard by the wind. For 5 plus miles, we crawled back to Action Bikes and Outdoors, happy to have gotten it in.

What’s Playing: (What am I’m listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today –Genesis – Abacab

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Cummins Hill Climb

Last evening, I had a chance to get a quick ride in before dark. Not only was it the end of the day, it was also the last chance to get a ride in before unseasonably cold tempatures and snow set in for the next few days. I met up with Mike at Action Bikes and Outdoor at 6pm. Having only about 1.5 hours of light, we decided to hit a short but tough loop that’s known in the area as Cummins Hill.

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Action Bikes and Outdoor & the Frisky Goat Coffee House 611 Broad Street Milford, PA 18337

Leaving the shop, we headed north on Rt. 209/Rt. 6, towards Port Jervis, NY. With alot of traffic at that time of day, we made sure we had our blinkies on to alert cars that we were on the side of the roadway. Rt. 209/Rt. 6 is fast and flat all the way into Matamoras. Passing the box stores and Rt. 84, we went under the overpass and made a left on Mountain Avenue, just before the Firehouse. The scenery immediatley turns from, cars, noise and traffic to quiet, desolate and peaceful. Mountain Avenue is a nice way to connect Rt. 209/Rt.6 with the Delaware River without having to ride through Matamoras (where there is no room for bikes on Pennsylvannia Avenue).

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Delaware Drive

Mountain Avenue winds through some residential areas and comes to an end at Delaware Drive. Making a left on Delaware Drive, we enjoyed a few miles of riding along the Delaware River. With the recent rains, the river was flowing quite quickly, creating a relaxing sound as we approached the climbs.  Right at the end of Delaware Drive, along the river are boat launches for the three major river trip companies in the area.

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View from the Descent into Millrift

Just as Delaware Drive turns into Bluestone Blvd. the road immediately pitches up and the fun starts. Passing a few farms and cool rustic homes, the road climbs up for a few miles before descending down into Millrift, PA. With not much there, except for a bunch of neatly situated, pretty country homes, Millrift gives you some awesome scenery and a chance to refresh your legs before the real climbing begins.